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Sports This Week: Canada's men's para hockey team is golden

In 13 appearances, Canada has captured five gold medals at the World Para Hockey Championship.
Canadian Paralympian Tyler McGregor was Captain of the gold medal winning squad. (File Photo)

YORKTON - Canada’s National Para Hockey Team won gold at the World Para Hockey Championship for the first time since 2017, defeating the United States 2-1 in the gold medal game at WinSport Arena in Calgary.

“It was a relief in many ways. We hadn’t won a World Championship in seven years,” Team Captain Tyler McGregor told Yorkton This Week. “It felt really good. I’m really proud of this team. It’s been an incredible journey.”

The journey was a rather rough one, going back to losing the championship final in 2023 in Moose Jaw.

Then through the most recent season the US dominated, winning nine straight over Canada.

So how did it turn around in the final?

“There was a lot of struggle. I’m not going to lie. It does start to creep in,” said McGregor.

But, when they looked at the losses, the team captain said the analytics were not so bad.

“We were right in there. . . We were really playing them close. . . We were trending in the right way,” he said, adding it was usually a couple of minutes where a lapse happened that was costing them.

The team was also growing as a unit.

“First and fore most we were able to get healthy,” said McGregor. “That was a big difference.”

While the losses did mount through the season McGregor said it was an opportunity to develop chemistry with a full roster implementing systems brought in by coach Russ Herrington who joined the program only last year.

Through the losses the team learned to trust in the process and each other.

“We found out that we believed in ourselves and each other,” said McGregor.

So come the gold medal game in Calgary the team felt ready.

“We knew if we showed up and played our best game when it mattered most we could win,” said McGregor.

Dominic Cozzolino scored on a shot just 35 seconds into the game, the lone goal of the first period, to give Canada the lead.

Then Adam Kingsmill came to the fore making 24 saves and earning Player of the Game honours in the Canadian nets. McGregor said he was the difference as the US made its push.

Anton Jacobs-Webb scored what would be the eventual game-winner on a set up by McGregor with 5:54 remaining in the second period.

For McGregor it was his third gold medal, and the one that actually stands out the most. While admitting there might be some bias based on it just happening, this gold is so big ending a season of struggles and a seven year gold drought, he said.

“I could reflect for days on the difficult time for the teams in that drought,” he said.

When things are going bad it’s “really easy to get off track,” but with the current team the losses became “a source of inspiration” focusing the team on the task of winning in the end.

That the win came in front of family and friends on Canadian ice just sweetened things, he added.

Now McGregor, in his 12th season with Team Canada will look for more golden moments. At 30, he feels he has more good years yet to play.

“I’m right in the prime of my career. I have just as much love and passion for going to the rink . . . I’m really fuelled by the competitive aspect of sport.”

In 13 appearances, Canada has captured five gold medals at the World Para Hockey Championship (2000, 2008, 2013, 2017, 2024), in addition to four silver (2015, 2019, 2021, 2023) and three bronze (1996, 2009, 2012).