|Billy Bridges (18) of Team Canada congratulates teammate Marc Dorion (7) after scoring in a 4-0 win over Italy on March 13 during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics at University of B.C. Thunderbird Arena. (CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY)
VANCOUVER -- Greg Westlake of Mississauga, Ont., scored a pair of insurance markers as Canada shutout Italy 4-0 on Saturday to begin the 2010 Winter Paralympics’ sledge hockey tournament.
Marc Dorion of Bourget, Ont., beat Italian goaltender Santino Stillitano early in the first period after receiving a pass from Adam Dixon, but Dorion’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
Dorion had better luck at 9:28 when he converted a pass from Billy Bridges of Mississauga into a goal after Italian defender Gianluigi Rosa inadvertently redirected the puck with his skate.
Right winger Westlake doubled the score with a third period shot under the crossbar that was affirmed under an official video review. He added another almost four minutes later.
“We wanted to get the insurance there,” Westlake said. “I didn’t care who got it, I just wanted to breathe a little easier on the bench.”
Westlake was born in North Vancouver and his legs amputated below the knees when he was 18 months.
Captain Jean Labonte of Gatineau, Que., scored unassisted with almost five minutes to go.
Goaltender Paul Rosen of Thornhill, Ont., recorded the shutout. Canada outshot Italy 16-4. The result was somewhat of a moral victory for Italy, which was embarrassed 12-0 by Canada during the 2006 Turin Games.
“We didn’t have the start we wanted,” Labonte said. “We’ve got to give it to Italy, they played a really defensive game and were solid in their own end.”
Canada faces Sweden on Sunday while Italy meets defending silver medallist Norway.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the game and posed for photographs with a long line of Canadian hockey fans during the intermissions. Paid attendance in the 6,800-capacity arena was reported as 5,420.