Elmira’s Vaughan MacDonald already has four world championship gold medals with the Canadian standing amputee hockey team, but winning a fifth on home soil was special.
Last weekend in Montreal, the Canadian squad – which includes St. Clements native Kory Lorentz – extended its undefeated streak and claimed gold with an 11-2 pasting of Finland in the final game of the ISIHF World Amputee Hockey Championships.
“I thought it was just an unbelievable weekend,” MacDonald said.
Canada’s first round robin game was against Finland. The Finnish team gave them a bit of a scare, leading 4-3 going into the third period, something that had never happened before. But Canada came back strong in the third to win 6-4.
Their second round robin game was a convincing 8-1 win over Latvia, followed by a matchup against the world team. Russia and the Czech Republic didn’t have enough players to ice teams this year, so the tournament included a world team made up of players from each of those countries, plus a few Canadians, a German, an Israeli and two Australians. That game was essentially an exhibition game, and Canada won handily, 10-1.
On Friday, Canada faced the United States in their final round robin game – a “spirited affair” that saw the Canadians shut out their opponents 5-0.
Canada finished first in the round robin, which meant they advanced straight to the gold medal game. Finland and the United States played for the other spot in the final, and in a stunning upset, Finland won 4-2. It was the first time that Canada had faced a team other than the U.S. in the final, but they made short work of their upstart opponents. Unlike their first game against Finland, Canada had all four lines going and they won handily, 11-2.
MacDonald has been an avid hockey player since he was five, but after a motorcycle accident when he was 18, he didn’t know if he’d ever play again. He broke both legs and lost the use of his left arm, and it took several years for him to get back on skates. But in 2003 he made the national team for the first time, and has been part of every gold-medal team since then.
MacDonald was blown away by the support the team received in Montreal, where 800 enthusiastic fans were in the stands.
“We’ve never had that kind of crowd,” MacDonald noted.
Among the fans was Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, and a Canadian soldier who had lost a leg in Afghanistan.
“That was pretty emotional.”