Canada routs Sweden in Paralympic opener

Sledge-teamSOCHI, Russia, March 8, 2014  – Seven different players scored goals and eight had at least a point as Canada’s National Sledge Team opened the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games with a 10-1 win over Sweden on Saturday.

Adam Dixon (Midland, Ont.) and Anthony Gale (Brampton, Ont.) had two goals and two assists each, while Kevin Rempel (Vineland, Ont.) chipped in with four helpers of his own. Graeme Murray (Gravenhurst, Ont.) and Greg Westlake (Oakville, Ont.) both had a goal and an assist in the win.

Billy Bridges (Summerside, P.E.I.), Ben Delaney (Ottawa, Ont.) and Dominic Larocque (Quebec City, Que.) had the other Canadian goals.

Canada didn’t waste any time opening the scoring; Bridges took a drop pass from Derek Whitson (Chatham Ont.) and ripped a shot over the glove of 49-year-old Swedish goaltender Ulf Nilsson just 1:03 in.

Delaney doubled the lead 5:39 later, banging in the rebound of a Gale shot that went wide, Gale got one of his own six minutes after that, storming in off the wing to hammer home a loose puck, and Larocque redirected a pass from Dixon 33 seconds after Gale’s goal, capping a dominant first period for the Canadians.

Nilsson flashed his glove more than once in the second period, keeping Canada at bay, but three more goals in the final 3:13 made it a seven-goal lead after 30 minutes.

Dixon got his first at 11:47, Murray wired home a shot right off the face-off at 12:20 and Westlake converted on the power play at 14:45, going to his left hand to beat Nilsson to the far side.

Westlake’s goal would be Canada’s lone marker with the man advantage. It went 1-for-4, while the Swedes were scoreless on their lone opportunity.

Moments after being denied on a breakaway by Canadian netminder Benoit St-Amand (St-Hubert, Que.), Per Kasperi got Sweden on the board five minutes into the third period, sliding a shot along the ice through traffic.

St-Amand wasn’t busy, needing to make just four saves to record the win.

Canada capped the scoring with three goals in 78 seconds with less than five minutes to go; Dixon scored his second goal off a pretty pass from Rempel, Larocque got his second, again off a Rempel feed, and Gale’s second put Canada into double digits.

The Canadians are right back in action Sunday, taking on Norway in the second of three preliminary round games in Group A. The puck drops at 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT.