By Ethan Diamandas & Charlie Pinkerton (This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
Ottawa at the Paralympics Day 7: Wheelchair curlers win bronze in thrilling fashion
A medal was within reach.
It was a bronze medal — after Canada’s 9-5 loss to China in the semis, that’s the best the rink could do — but the wheelchair curling team wanted it just as badly as gold.
The arena erupted into cheers as Canada’s fourth, Jon Thurston, executed a beautiful double takeout to push Slovakia to the brink with just one stone to go in the eighth.
Slovakia countered with a perfect draw, leaving Thurston needing another takeout to win the match — and he drilled it.
“Good job Canada!” spectators cheered, as skip Mark Ideson showed some emotion after the 8-3 win, while Ottawa’s Collinda Joseph hugged coach Mick Lizmore.
It was a tad disappointing Canada had to settle for bronze, especially since the rink defeated China in the round robin. Nevertheless, the team will head home with a medal — and, judging by the look on each athlete’s face after the win, that is definitely worth celebrating.
Canada has now won a medal in wheelchair curling at every Paralympics since 2006.
Table set for para hockey gold
As expected, Canada’s para ice hockey squad breezed through South Korea Thursday night.
The brunt of the scoring came off the back of Canadian captain Tyler McGregor, who potted an outrageous four goals in the 11-0 decimation. Veteran Billy Bridges scored a hat-trick, and the ‘Ottawa Line’ of Ben Delaney and Anton Jacobs-Webb connected for a tally, as well.
Canada completely outclassed the South Korean roster — which managed just three shots on net the entire game — in what was entirely a preparation game for a gold medal showdown versus the U.S.
“I know it sounds silly when we are in a team that expects to be in that gold-medal game,” said Canadian forward Bridges. “But I’ve been through two Paralympic experiences where we’ve lost in the semifinals and I know how devastating that can be for Canada.
“I know how important it is for our guys to play for the gold medal — as I say it, it gives me goosebumps.”
Day 8 Preview: The Canada-U.S. showdown we’ve been waiting for
Rob Armstrong remembers the final seconds of the 2018 Paralympic gold medal game too well.
The Canadian defenceman — who’s linked to Ottawa through his undergrad studies at Carleton University — took the puck on the rush and dug towards the U.S. zone. His team up by one goal with a minute left, Armstrong fired at the unguarded American cage — but his shot banged off the post.
“And that there was Canada — surely — winning their first gold since 2006,” the play-by-play announcer said.
Instead, the Americans rushed back and tied the game 20 seconds later, before crushing Canada’s dreams with a goal shortly into overtime.
“When I got home, that moment (his opportunity to put Canada up 2-0) was all I could think about,” Armstrong said in a February 2019 article on the International Paralympic Committee’s website.
A year later, Armstrong’s wounds from losing the gold medal game hadn’t healed.
“I think about it a lot,” Armstrong said in the same article. “There’ll be a day when I can tell my kids what I’ve done, but right now, I wish I could’ve performed better — we could’ve performed better.”
The moment haunted Armstrong, but he’s slated for a healthy dose of redemption in Beijing this time around, and his teammates are excited about that idea. Canada defeated the U.S. in an exhibition match in October 2021, so the club knows the recipe for success.
“We just look at the small things that allowed us to win those games, and that’s what we want to bring,” Canadian forward Liam Hickey told CBC. “Obviously, [when we] look back to 2018, that was a loss.
“We are looking forward to another chance to meet those guys. We know the things we need to move on and [we] look forward to that opportunity … If they play a physical fast game, we want to do the same.”
It’ll be the most exciting, fast-paced game of the tournament for sure. With a gold medal on the line, intensity and physicality are bound to be cranked all the way up, too.
The showdown begins Saturday at 11:05 p.m. eastern.
This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.
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