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The Canadian women’s Para hockey team faced the United States in a historic gold-medal final on Sunday at the  inaugural Para Ice Handbags Women’s World Challenge  in Green Bay, Wis.

While Canada suffered a 5-1 loss, the game signified an important moment in the development of women’s Para hockey.

Serving as a  showcase for  the women’s game, the first-ever event is a major step toward establishing a  women’s Para ice hockey world championship, with the ultimate goal of increasing female participation worldwide  and having the sport added to the Paralympic program.

The tournament hosted by World Pra Ice Hockey featured four teams, with Team World defeating Great Britain for bronze earlier on Sunday  at the Cornerstone Community Center. Team World was comprised of athletes from several nations.

In another first  for World Para Ice Hockey, the competition featured  an all-female officiating crew, including Canadian officials Jane Ogilvie  and Danielle Williams.

Sunday’s championship final between North america and the U. S.   lived up to the heated rivalry, with physical play throughout the game and several scrums in front of the net.

The Canadians found  their backs up against the wall early, because American forward  Katie Ladlie  opened the scoring just 49 seconds into the game.   Ladlie  finished off a  three-on-one break  by cutting across the goal and putting the puck past veteran Canadian goalie  Tracey Arnold.

The 44-year-old Arnold,   who has been on Canada’s national team since 2019, finished the game with 15 saves  — including several impressive glove stops  that kept the game within reach early on.

Ladlie  added insurance with her second goal of the game midway through the opening period, but Canada responded with its lone goal just under two minutes later.   Quebec’s  Raphaëlle Tousignant, who scored the hat trick against Team World on Saturday, capitalized on an ill-timed line change by the Americans.  

Tousignant forced a turnover and sped down the ice on a  breakaway before shooting the puck over the glove of goalie Hope Bevilhymer, who finished with three saves.

Lera Doederlei restored the two-goal lead  with a wraparound goal along with under three minutes to go in the first period.

The Americans continued to dominate possession  ahead of the home crowd, and fellow forward Catherine Faherty gave the U. S. a 4-1 lead with one: 27 left to go within the first.

Tempers began to flare as the sport progressed. American star  Kelsey DiClaudio  was penalized for roughing in the final mere seconds of the first period,   and Canada was given the five-on-three power-play when  Robynne Hill  was also called  for  roughing  early in the 2nd.  

But Canada was unable to seize the key opportunity against a composed U. S. penalty kill unit.

Solid defence from both teams  led to a scoreless second period, but  Faherty finished off the scoring for the U. S. by finding the back of the net with 4: 30 left in the final frame.

Arnold made a beautiful glove save  with seven moments left in the game, but Canada was unable to generate the spark on offence. The particular Americans had another objective waved off in the third period due to a hand pass.

Canadian forward  Aubree Clements was injured during a late scrum in front of Canada’s  net, but she was able to skate off a few minutes later after being attended to  by the team’s athletic trainer.

Team World captured bronze earlier in the day with a commanding 5-0 win over Great Britain. Ailin Zheng  plus Rebecca Mann led the way with two goals apiece as  Team World outshot  the British  12-3.

Zheng  and Mann scored power-play goals as part of a three-goal first period, while  Cindy Ouellet  additional a goal in the second time period.  

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