Moose Jaw, Sask., is making sports history as Canada gets set to host the World Para Ice Hockey Championship for the first time.
The top eight international Para hockey teams will compete at the Moose Jaw Events Centre from May 28 to June 4. The venue will host all 20 games, including the gold-medal contest of the series, which is organized by the International Paralympic Committee.
The 2023 tournament marks the largest Para hockey event in Canada since the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
“It has been so long since our family, friends and people in Canada have been able to watch our sport live, and I think that’s the best way to see it,” said Canadian captain Tyler McGregor.
“As Para athletes that makes you feel so valued, and we’re honoured that we get to play our sport in front of our home fans.”
Canada’s hosting milestone comes 27 years after the world championship began in 1996.
At the official announcement in Moose Jaw Monday, McGregor told reporters the team has talked about hosting for years.
“Seeing the game live, I think, will give people a new level of appreciation and respect for how difficult the sport is and how fast and physical it really can be,” McGregor said.
McGregor, who is from Forest, Ont., had his left leg amputated above the knee after receiving a spindle cell sarcoma diagnosis in 2010. He began playing Para hockey the following year with the London Blizzard, winning his first of 18 international medals with Team Canada in 2012.
“You’re seeing the best of the best in the world and regardless of what sport it is, I think there’s a level of intrigue around that,” he said.
While there will be a quick turnaround for the event in late May, Moose Jaw city councillor Heather Eby said it’s a chance to build and maintain energy around the event.
“Sometimes if you have too long of a lead time, it wears off after the initial excitement,” she said.
“I know that [businesses] will all be excited and will want to get on board. I’m hoping that there’s some special events that will happen throughout the community that week.”
How the world championship plays out
Canada will play in Group A along with Czechia, Korea and the United States. The top two teams earn byes to the semifinal round, with the bottom two seeds advancing to the quarter-finals.
China, Germany, Italy and Norway make up Group B and will compete for the remaining two quarter-final spots.
The United States is the two-time defending world champion and has won gold five times since the inaugural world championship in 1996.
Canada has four first-place finishes, with the most recent in 2017, and has the highest overall medal count in the tournament with 10.
Tickets for the 2023 world Para ice hockey championship go on sale 10 a.m. MT March 29, starting as low as $15.
Canada’s first game is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT on May 29 against Korea. Canada and the U.S. will have a rematch of their gold-medal game from the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at 7 p.m. MT on May 31.
The first game of the tournament is between Czechia and Korea at 11 a.m. MT. on May 28.
Broadcast information and the pre-tournament schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
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