HarborCenter played host to the U.S. National sled hockey team's penultimate Paralympic Games tuneup Thursday night. A little over a month from competition in South Korea, the Americans looked strong against their arch rival.
U.S. forward Declan Farmer scored twice as the Americans defeated Canada, 2-1, in the first of a two-game border series.
Canada scored the first goal of the game 11:39 into the first, taking advantage of a 4-on-3 opportunity. Tyler McGregor found Greg Westlake all alone on the right side with a cross-crease pass. American goalie Steve Cash had no chance to slide across for the save.
Farmer tied the game just over a minute into the second, as he was left alone and able to skate straight at Canada goalie Corbin Watson from the dots. Farmer got elevation on his shot, beating Watson on the right side.
Farmer scored his second and the game-winner with under a minute left in the second, slapping a shot just before getting laid out by a Canadian defenseman.
Westlake appeared to score an equalizer for Canada on a slapshot from the right dot with 8:32 remaining in regulation, but the goal was waived off due to goalie interference.
Local ties: Adam Page, a Lancaster native, is prepping for his third Paralympic Games with his eyes on a third gold medal. He took the first U.S. penalty that set up Canada's first goal, getting charged with a holding infraction with 5;24 remaining in the first period.
Luke McDermott, Page's teammate with the Buffalo Sabres sled hockey team, also suited up for the Americans.
Standing on his head: Canada had a great opportunity to move ahead 2-1 with five minutes remaining in the second, but Cash was able to hold on to the puck despite three Canadian players crashing the net hard.
The setup: The teams played three 15 minute periods with 12 minutes of break in between.
Prior history: The United States defeated Canada 3-0 in the semifinals at the 2014 games in Sochi. The Americans followed that up with another shutout in the gold medal game, defeating Russia 1-0 to earn the nation's third Paralympic sled hockey title.
The U.S. and Canada have met 88 times overall, with the Americans only winning 25 times. However, the U.S. has dominated of late, going 10-2-1-2 against their northern rivals since the start of the 2014-15 season. The two sides have met in seven straight major international title games but have never matched up against one another in a Paralympic gold-medal game.
Stars in the crowd: A pair of former Sabres, Mike Foligno and Larry Playfair, were in attendance.
Up Next: The U.S. and Canada will play one more exhibition game, this time in Port Colborne, Ont., before heading to Pyeongchang for the Paralympic Winter Games in March. The two rivals will square off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Vale Health & Wellness Center.
The Paralympic Games begin on March 8 and run through March 18.