A jarring hit in the first period provided a huge jolt for American Taylor Chace.
Chace went on to score the only goal of the game to lead the United States to a 1-0 victory over Canada on Saturday to win gold at the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
Canada’s biggest highlight of the first came when Kieran Block levelled Chace with a big hit at centre ice.
“It’s always nice to literally check yourself into the game,” Chace said. “We just had a lot of fun out there. It’s always a blast playing Canada. It’s always a tight game.”
American coach Jeff Sauer said he wasn’t surprised to see his captain continue to battle hard even after the collision.
“It maybe woke him up,” Sauer said. “It could have woke up both guys because nobody came out on the short end of that one.”
Steve Cash made eight saves to earn the shutout as the Americans employed a stifling defensive system to keep Canada off the scoreboard at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
“We just got off our game plan and we allowed the Americans to establish a good forecheck,” said Canadian coach Mike Mondin. “It’s just one of those games. We have to learn from it. We know we’re capable of playing a lot better than that in the first two periods. That’s what we’re going to have to do the next time we play the U.S.”
Chace finally broke the scoreless deadlock at 9:10 of the second when his point shot got through traffic and past Canadian goalie Benoit St-Amand, who finished the game with eight saves.
“I just waited for that gap and I just ripped it as hard as I could and it went in,” Chace said. “We just wanted to give ourselves a chance to win and tonight we were able to come out on top.”
Canada will play a three-game series against the U.S. in Ottawa next February as both teams gear up for the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships, which will be held in Goyang City, Korea in April.
“We still have the world championship at the end of this year and we’ll set a fire for us to get going,” said Canadian captain Greg Westlake. “We’re going to be better and I just hope people who saw us play this week keep following the team.”
Added veteran Canadian forward Billy Bridges: “I think we’re pretty excited to come at them and really use this as fuel for the next four months and see that there’s no excuses.”
Earlier in the day, Loyd Remi Solberg had a hat trick to help Norway capture the bronze medal with a 5-0 win over Japan.
In the gold-medal game, the two finalists battled to a scoreless first period in which the U.S. outshot Canada 3-0.
Dixon finally recorded Canada’s first shot on goal at 4:35 of the second period, but was thwarted when Cash made a glove save.
At the other end of the ice, St-Amand made a nice chest save to turn aside a shot by U.S. forward Josh Pauls a short time before Chace’s goal.
Westlake had a breakaway for Canada early in the third period and his shot trickled past Cash, but American forward Declan Farmer cleared the puck out of harm’s way before it crossed the goal-line.
“I just wanted to play it safe and get it out of the way anyway,” said Farmer, who also had an assist on Chace’s goal. “That’s just my first instinct to get back for a rebound. It felt good to do that, to contribute to the win.”
With St.-Amand on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Canada poured on the pressure in the game’s final minute but couldn’t score an equalizer.
In the bronze-medal game, Magnus Bogle and Knut Andre Nordstoga also scored for Norway, while Audun Bakke tied a tournament record with four assists.
Kjell Christian Hamar made nine saves to record the shutout, while Mitsuru Nagase stopped 23 shots at the other end of the ice.
Notes: The U.S. went 0 for 4 with the man advantage, while Canada failed to score on two power plays. ... Canada struck gold at the last edition of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in November 2011 in Calgary with a 4-1 win over the U.S. in the final. Norway won bronze with a 5-3 win over Japan. ... The U.S. beat Canada 2-1 in the semifinals of the 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Hamar, Norway last April and then went on to win gold with a 5-1 victory over Japan in the final.