TORONTO, Canada – The meeting of wheelchair rugby powerhouses Canada and the United States did not disappoint the near sell-out crowd at the Mississauga Centre tonight. Tightly matched for four periods and two overtimes, the end came out in favor of the Americans 60-59.
After a quick score for the U.S. from number five, Chuck Aoki (Minneapolis, Minnesota) to open the game, scoring was back in forth for much of the first. Canada took their first lead at 2:19 and were up 14 -12 at the end of the first period. The U.S. tied it back up with 4.33 left in the second but was unable to overtake the lead. A turnover with .43 left in the first half brought the score to 27 -24 in favor of the Canadians at the end of two periods of play.
Both teams came roaring out in the second half as the game stayed in favor of the Canadians on the board as they grew their lead to four. A technical foul on Canada’s Zak Madell and the resulting turnover to the U.S. brought them back within two. The third period would end with the gap down to just one as Canada remained in the lead 37-36.
Another quick score from Aoki opened the fourth and brought the score back to a tie game. The U.S. took back the lead for the first time with 5.23 left on the game clock. With just 1.18 left on the clock the Canadians tied it up, and as regulation time ran out the score was tied at 51 apiece.
With three minutes of OT on the clock, it was much the same as regulation with a fierce back and forth that left the score in yet another tie. As the second OT began, the Americans came out with a quick score and as time progressed Aoki absorbed some huge pressure that left Eric Newby (Maryland Heights, Missouri) open to make the final score. “Tonight was about everyone working really well together, ” said Newby. “Our coaches, our bench, it all comes down to little things like communication and trust, its all about trust in your teammates.”
Tonight’s game set up the semi-final matches for Thursday evening. The U.S. will face Colombia at 8 p.m. EST.
The Parapan American Games serve as a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, with the top finisher in wheelchair rugby securing a spot. The medal games will be contested on Friday, August 14th. Wheelchair rugby is one of the sports being live streamed at these Games, check out http://www.paralympic.org/live-sport to catch the action each day.
Follow the action from Toronto on USA Wheelchair Rugby’s Website Twitter and Facebook pages.