Elite Amateur Sport Hockey Para Sport

Linemates Delaney and Jacobs-Webb hoping to climb ‘Mount Everest’ and win gold at Beijing Paralympics

Sport: Para Ice Hockey
Age: 25
Hometown: Ottawa
Residence: Ottawa
Local Club: Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario
Third Paralympics

Sport: Para Ice Hockey
Age: 21
Hometown: Gatineau
Residence: Gatineau/Montreal
Local Club: Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario
First Paralympics
Instagram: @antonj.w

By Ethan Diamandas

Canada’s para ice hockey roster is very diverse. Like most international rosters, there are veterans, who provide the experience, and younger players, who jolt the lineup with bursts of youthful vigour.

Gatineau’s Anton Jacobs-Webb belongs to the latter group, as the 21-year-old is one of several players making their Paralympic debut in Beijing.

Anton Jacobs-Webb. Photo: Hockey Canada

“I made the team back in 2018, but to be in the Olympics is really special,” Jacobs-Webb told the Ottawa Sports Pages. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about.”

Jacobs-Webb was born with his left leg shorter than his right and has worn a prosthetic since birth. At age 11, his prosthetist introduced him to Hervé Lord, a three-time Canadian Paralympian in para ice hockey.

From there, Jacobs-Webb was hooked.

“I had posters on my wall, autographs. I would stay up late to watch the games because of the time change and all that kind of stuff,” said the Concordia University mechanical engineering student. “The Olympics have been the biggest thing for me, ever, to make this team and to compete on this kind of stage.”

Jacobs-Webb’s linemate, Ottawa’s Ben Delaney, isn’t far off in age at 25 years old, but his resume sets him above the rest of the roster.

Delaney made his Paralympic debut as a 17-year-old at the 2014 Games in Sochi. The youngest player on the team, Delaney won bronze in 2014 and followed up with a silver medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics.

Ben Delaney playing for Canada at the 2013 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada

“I was in Grade 12 and we went to Sochi,” Delaney told the Sports Pages, remembering his first Games. “I was so nervous, and it was a really crazy experience.

“I’m really grateful for it because it definitely made a much better hockey player out of me, and that prepared me for future competitions to just kind of calm down and have a little more belief in myself.”

Now, these two young men share both a Paralympic dream and their space on the ice, with Jacobs-Webb taking the face-off and Delaney flanking him on the left wing.

“He’s got a good shot,” Delaney said of his linemate. “And sometimes I’ve got a good shot. I’m more of a skater. I like to skate hard. And he’s a little more clever. It goes both ways.

“We complement each other, and it’s fun playing with him. If you like playing with the guy, you’re going to play better if you really are close with the dude, and we have good chemistry.”

Ben Delaney at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics. Photo: CPC

For Delaney, who had his left leg amputated after being diagnosed with bone cancer at age 12, playing alongside Jacobs-Webb makes the Paralympic experience even better.

“I love the guy very dearly,” Delaney said. “He’s a great kid, and it’ll be really cool to play with him and represent our country together. It’s pretty exciting; it definitely makes it that much more special.”

Defenceman Tyrone Henry will also join Jacobs-Webb and Delaney in Beijing. The trio all played their way through the ranks of the Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario (SHEO) organization at various levels.

Each player has fond memories from their time with SHEO, which also added 2018 Paralympian Rob Armstrong to its stable when he began studying law at Carleton University.

“That’s where I started,” said Jacobs-Webb, whose father, John, sits on the SHEO board of directors. “And that’s where I played most of my sledge hockey for most of my years. It’s a great local organization.”

Anton Jacobs-Webb. Photo: Hockey Canada

Chemistry is a difference-maker in sledge hockey, Delaney said. Since he, Jacobs-Webb, and Henry now have reps playing together through SHEO – and now during the month-long pre-Games camp in Calgary – the lineup is finally clicking.

“It’s showing now, and it’ll show in the Games for sure,” Delaney said.

In Beijing, Canada will be seeking revenge against the United States, which beat Canada in a crushing overtime loss in the gold medal game in 2018.

“I think the biggest thing for me, personally, is just to defeat the Americans to win that gold medal and not be second place anymore,” Jacobs-Webb said. “We’ve been working and training for four years with this one game, the final game, in mind.”

For Delaney, he’s hoping his third time’s the charm after narrowly missing in his previous Games – and if he succeeds, he imagines his emotion will pour out.

“I’d probably cry,” he said. “It would mean everything to me. It’s my dream to win a Paralympic gold medal. That’s why I started playing sledge hockey in the first place.

“It’s cool to make Team Canada, but [a gold medal] is Mount Everest for us, so I’m very, very excited for another opportunity for that.”


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