To complete the group A play, Team U.S.A. faced off against Team Korea today at the 2021 World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic. This final game of the day capped off an exciting day of play with two decisive victories for Team RPC and Team Canada - whose win punched their ticket for Beijing 2022 - and an upset victory for Team Slovakia in their first appearance in A Pool play.
Team U.S.A. dropped their first game against rival Canada on opening day but bounced back with a win over the hometown Czech Republic team on day two. Korea entered the game today with a 1-1 record thus far in the Championships, defeating Czech Republic but losing to a strong Canada team. Would Team U.S.A. or Team Korea come out on top in this preliminary round match up?
Team U.S.A. played with fire from the moment the puck hit the ice. A strong offense charge and physical play by Brody Roybal marked the first few minutes of play. Korean goalie Lee Jae Woong stopped several shots that had U.S.A. fans leaning closer to their TVs. Korea had a few half hearted opportunities when the puck cleared the blue line, but U.S.A.’s speed and defense quickly shut down the chances Korea was hoping to develop. Despite several promising shots, Team U.S.A. couldn’t find the back of the net. They finally got a man advantage on a teeing penalty call on Korea.
USA’s usually lethal power play went to work, and after a faceoff in the neutral zone for playing the puck with a high stick, USA made Korea pay. Taking the faceoff win and getting right back into the offensive zone, Declan Farmer in the slot froze Woong in the goal and then passed off to Brody Roybal who found the wide open side of the net at 8:06. USA up 1-0.
Team U.S.A. continued the offensive pressure. Korea worked hard to clear the puck, but the blue jerseys of U.S.A. kept it in the zone effectively. Brody Roybal, plenty warmed up after his first goal, made it two on a pass from Rico Roman. Roybal lifted the puck over Woong’s glove making it 2-0.
Each time Korea gained control of the puck U.S.A. swarmed and quickly recovered possession. U.S.A.’s Kevin McKee took the puck around the back of the net, dropped it off for a split second with Farmer who then returned the disc to McKee for a slot goal making it 3-0.
A rare American mistake came with less than two minutes to go as Ralph DeQuebec headed to the penalty box after stopping a Korean break out in a less than legal manner. Korea finally spent a bit time in their offensive zone, but U.S.A. stopped any potential offense and cleared the puck as the period expired with the score 3-0 U.S.A.
Korea won the second period puck drop and tried to take advantage of the remaining power play, but weren’t able to get a goal before DeQuebec rejoined his team on the ice. Play returned to the other end of the rink as U.S.A. set up offensively.
U.S.A. peppered Woong with close shots but gained the man advantage on another teeing call against Korea less than five minutes into an already frustrating second period for Korea. Rico Roman took advantage of some open ice on a pass from Josh Pauls and sent goal number four past Woong. 4-0 Team U.S.A.
The game spread out a bit in the middle of the second period with play leaking into the neutral zone at times. Korea wasn’t able to capitalize on the extra space. With less than six minutes to go, Korea committed a penalty, once again testing their penalty kill against a threatening U.S.A. power play. Korea was able to get the puck cleared, but in their frenzy sent too many men on the ice making it a 5 on 3. Brody Roybal took the puck from end to end and netted his hat trick. 5-0 U.S.A.
With a minute and a half left on the man advantage, Team U.S.A. continued their pressure. Just as the penalty ended, Declan Farmer drifted a perfectly placed pass on the stick of Josh Misiewicz, netting Misiewicz his first goal of the tournament. 6-0.
Travis Dodson floated into the goalie area and nudged the puck into the back of the net, but that seventh goal was waved off by the referee. Not waved off was the two on one goal by Brody Royal seconds later to officially make the score 7-0 with less than a minute left in the period. Korea once more returned to the sin bin looking for snacks, ending the period 7-0 and with 1:30 left to kill in the third.
The period started with the remainder of the U.S.A. power play, but the man advantage didn’t last long as Jack Wallace was called for a penalty. The teams played :14 at four on four, and then Korea took a turn a man up.
Korea struggled to get the puck into the offensive zone and when they did, it was immediately yeeted out by U.S.A. The penalty ended with no shots on goal for Korea and a slightly better rested Wallace for Team U.S.A.
Korea had a little more success preventing Team U.S.A. from setting up the offense in front of Woong through the first half of the period. With a seven goal lead, Team U.S.A. seemed content to play more of a relaxed game. Play needed to step up with less than eight minutes left as Kevin McKee headed to the penalty box for U.S.A. to serve a too many men on the ice time out.
Even with the man advantage, Korea played defense on the power play. Travis Dodson was on the receiving end of a pass from Brody Roybal and scored goal number 8 for Team U.S.A. shorthanded. The rest of the power play passed with no real threat from Korea.
Roybal continued to showcase his speed and skill on offense, weaving through Korean defenders and finding the open teammate for well placed passes. Roybal rifled off a shot from the top of the slot and when it went wide, sped over to get his own rebound and keep play going. His play elevated Team U.S.A. through the final minutes and solidified a statement win 8-0.
- Check flight prices, they’re going to Beijing! - With the win today, Team U.S.A. earned their bid to the 2022 Paralympics. While it isn’t a big surprise, it IS a moment to stop and celebrate. This team has been through cancelled competitions, closed rinks, and modified training schedules, and now they are headed to Beijing!
- Start to finish, this was all Team U.S.A. - U.S.A. needed some time to warm up to their typical level of play in their first game against Canada, and the slow start may have cost them the win. Today, the team played forty-five minutes of U.S.A. hockey against a solid Korean team. It will be interesting to see how the energy is from puck drop to final buzzer of their semi-final game.
- Brody Roybal is not even real - OK, he obviously is, but his play is otherworldly. There is not an area of weakness in his game for opponents to capitalize on - puck handling, anticipation, quick release, speed. He is one of the best - if not THE BEST - all around players in the world.
TOMORROW: RPC vs. Czech Republic at 7:15 AM CST
Norway vs. Korea at 10:30 AM CST
FRIDAY: Semi-final #1: Team U.S.A. vs. winner of Norway vs. Korea 6:45 AM CST
Semi-final #2: Team Canada vs. winner of RPC vs. Czech Republic 10:00 AM CST
SATURDAY: Bronze Medal Match 10:45 AM CST
Gold Medal Game 5:00 PM CST