September 1 - On the eve of celebrations marking six months to go until the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, the Four Nations ice sledge hockey test event came to a close with victory for world champions Canada over Norway.
Hosts Russia overcame the Czech Republic to come third, in a repeat of the bronze medal match and result at the World Championships earlier this year in South Korea.
The tournament, organised by Sochi 2014 in conjunction with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) was the first test event of the season to be held at the purpose-built Shayba Arena in Sochi, ahead of the Games, which are due to take place from March 7 to 16 next year.
After overcoming Russia in the semi-finals, Canada proved much too strong for former world champions Norway, cruising to a 5-0 victory.
The Norwegians had seen off the challenge of the Czech Republic in their previous game, but were 2-0 down inside the opening six minutes in Sochi, as goals from Greg Westlake and Adam Dixon saw the Canadians get off to a blistering start.
The opening minute of the second period saw Westlake bag his second of the game as the Canadians moved out of sight before two more strikes in the final five minutes from Marc Dorion and Billy Bridges sealed an emphatic win for the men with the maple leaf on their chests.
"Our team worked hard and overcame adversity in this tournament," said Canadian head coach Mike Mondin, whose side went undefeated in the tournament, outscoring their opponents 19-6 in five games.
"This was a terrific event for us to participate in as we prepare for the Paralympics here in March and we look forward to returning next spring."
There was a goal-fest in the bronze medal match as hosts Russia beat the Czech Republic 7-2.
Konstantin Shikhov and Ilia Volkov each found the back of the net twice, along with strikes from Nikolay Terentyev, Evgeny Petrov and team captain Vadim Selyukin.
Over the past year, international competitions have been held in all 15 Olympic disciplines and five Paralympic sports at ten competition venues in Sochi, and President and chief executive of Organising Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, hailed the success of the Four Nations tournament which saw 67 ice sledge hockey athletes taking part in the event.
"The Four Nations ice sledge hockey tournament has been an excellent opener for the international Sochi 2014 Test Events programme in season 2013/14," he said.
"More than 60 athletes from four major hockey nations got to take to the ice in the new Shayba Arena.
"It is here in just a few months that the Olympic hockey tournament matches and competitions in ice sledge hockey at the Paralympic Winter Games will be played.
"We carefully prepared for the tournament, and sought to pay particular attention to the needs of athletes with disabilities.
"I'd like to specially thank the 200 Sochi 2014 volunteers who helped during the event as we continue our countdown to the Games."
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