Team U.S.A.’s sledge hockey team has the opportunity to defend its status as gold medal champions after beating Canada 3-0 in the semifinals of the Sochi Paralympic Games. And they get the chance to in large part because of 16-year-old phenom Declan Farmer, who scored twice and added an assist to prevent Canada from sweeping men’s, women’s and sledge hockey at the two Olympic events. The Americans will take on the host Russians in Saturday’s gold medal final, while the Canadians will face Norway the same day for the bronze.
The Americans were upset by Russia 2-1 in their final round-robin game, but in front of a crowd of 5,150 at Shayba Arena, they were the deserving victors over their arch-rivals. Farmer, who only one year earlier became the youngest international sledge hockey player in American history, opened the scoring 9:12 into the first period and scored again with 56 seconds remaining in the opening frame to set the dominant tone; from that point, Joshua Pauls scored in the second period and U.S. goalie Steve Cash stopped all 11 Canadian shots he saw to secure the win.
Canada entered the Paralympic tournament as the 2013 world champions and outscored the opposition 15-1 in their three round-robin games in Sochi as they aimed to improve on a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Games. But they couldn’t garner any momentum for much of the game, and even a late goal scored by Billy Bridges in the final minute of the third period was disallowed when teammate Kevin Rempel was in the crease. Goalie Corbin Watson stopped seven of 10 shots for the Canadians, who now will look to avenge their loss to Norway in the 2010 bronze medal game.