To get to the gold-medal game, the U.S. and Canada outscored opponents by a combined 80-1. The final on Saturday (11 p.m. ET, NBCSN and streaming) figures to be a little closer.
The U.S. dropped Italy 10-1 in the semifinals Thursday, hours after Canada dumped host South Korea 7-0, to set up the Paralympic gold-medal game that everybody anticipated.
Nikko Landeros, in his third Paralympics, led the U.S. with a hat trick against Italy. Brody Roybal, the youngest member of the 2014 team at age 15, scored twice and has a tournament-leading 10 goals in five games.
Roybal is one goal shy of the record for a single Paralympic tournament set by American Sylvester Flis in 2002 (via the International Paralympic Committee).
The U.S. was scored on for the first time in the tournament in the third period with the victory already in hand. It outshot Italy 33-4.
The Americans, already the only nation with multiple Paralympic hockey titles, now bid for a three-peat against their rivals to the north.
“It’s going to be a chess match,” NBC analyst and three-time Paralympian Taylor Lipsett said. “Both teams are fairly equally matched up.”
The Canadians are the reigning world champions, beating the Americans 4-1 in the final (also in PyeongChang) on April 20. Then the U.S. returned the favor with a 3-2 win in Prince Edward Island on Dec. 9. The teams then split a home-and-home series in February.
In 2014, the U.S. blanked Canada 3-0 in the Paralympic semifinals en route to gold. Its final opponent in Sochi, Russia, doesn’t have a hockey team in PyeongChang as it was unable to qualify while banned from competition due to the country’s poor anti-doping record.
The U.S. is dedicating its tournament to its 2014 Paralympic coach, Jeff Sauer, who died of pancreatic cancer in February 2017.
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