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Students bring the atmosphere at 2023 Para Hockey Cup in New Brunswick

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The 2023 Para Hockey Cup is well underway at the QPlex in Quispamsis, N.B.

Monday marked the second day of round-robin play between the four teams, with U.S.A. facing China in the early game of the day. The host, Team Canada, will face Czechia at 7 p.m. after taking down China 4-1 in their opener Sunday night.

Officials are hoping the atmosphere for the host nation will echo what was seen in the day’s first game. Nearly 750 students from local schools, including École des Pionniers and Fairvale Elementary, braved the snowy conditions to pack to QPlex.

Youngsters from Fairvale Elementary were eager to have a chance to watch world class talent in their own backyard.

“This like the best sport ever,” one student said, with many of his friends agreeing on the matter.

“It’s great, and it’s rough,” another student admitted, not realizing how rough the sport really was. “It’s really fun if you like hockey and stuff.”

For many students it was their first time watching a sledge hockey game.

“It’s the coolest,” another group of students said. “It’s so cool to watch.”

“It’s like way different then regular hockey but in a good way.”

The 750 students sounded closer to 7,000 in the intimate facility, which is exactly what officials were hoping for.

“We told them in advance that you are not going to the library,” jokes chair of the Host Organizing Committee Aaron Kennedy. “We want you to be loud and ruckus and they have certainty delivered on that this morning.”

Team U.S.A. ended up taking the contest 11-1, with nine of those goals coming in the first period to set a tournament record for the most goals in a single period. Team U.S.A. captain Josh Pauls credits the loud crowd for his team’s early start.

“It was awesome,” says Pauls. “Having U.S.A. chants in Canada isn’t something you normally get so it was really cool to have those kids cheering for us.”

“Everybody loves the sport once they get the chance to see it,” Pauls continues. “Getting those kids out, they are going to bring there parents, talk about it with their friends, and it’s going to get a lot more people involved.”

“It’s important to get these kids out and allow them to experience para hockey first hand,” Kennedy says. “It’s fast, it’s physical, it’s exciting and I think people are gaining an appreciation for the high calibre athletes thee players are.”

A few schools will be in attendance for the final round-robin game on Wednesday at 11 a.m. between Czechia and China. Canada and U.S.A. will wrap up round-robin play at 7 p.m. that night.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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