CALGARY - Billy Bridges was quick to share the credit after scoring the decisive breakaway goal in Canada's 2-1 win over the United States at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge on Wednesday.
The Summerside, P.E.I., native may have pulled the trigger, but he says he wouldn't have even had the chance if not for team trainer Jan Antons.
With Canada up 1-0 in the second period, Bridges had just finished a penalty-killing shift when coach Mike Mondin called for him to go back out on the ice.
"It was funny because I went out too soon, so my trainer actually reached over the boards and picked me right up and threw me back to the bench," Bridges said.
Meanwhile, Canadian defenceman Adam Dixon flipped the puck high out of his own zone and it bounced right in front of Bridges once he got back out on the ice.
"(Antons) had him held and then released him right at the perfect time so a big assist to our trainer Jan and a big goal by Billy," Dixon said.
Added Bridges: "By the time I got out there it was like receiving a pass from Payton Manning. Adam Dixon is so amazing. It wasn't one of those hard ones either. It landed nice and soft. The tricky part was that it was spinning so much, so I was trying to pick it up and just going, 'Don't screw this up.'"
Bridges made good on his breakaway opportunity with a quick move before roofing a shot up and over U.S. goalie Steve Cash.
All that American coach Jeff Sauer could do after the back-breaking goal was shake his head.
"It was a smart play by Bridges, a dumb play by us, but give him the credit," he said. "He scored the goal when he had the opportunity."
Dixon and Bridges finished with a goal and an assist each.
Benoit St-Amand made eight saves to record the victory for Canada, which won all three of its round-robin games at the four-team tournament.
Taylor Chace scored the lone goal for the U.S. (2-1), while Cash finished with 12 saves.
"We weren't putting the puck on the net the way we can," Sauer said. "We still hesitate. I want to get them to move the puck and shoot. We don't do a good job of that when the pressure's on."
Canada went 0-for-1 with the man advantage, while also killing off all four U.S. power plays.
Earlier in the day, Morgan Vaernes scored the shootout clincher to lead Norway (1-2) to a 1-0 win over Japan (0-3).
The Americans will meet Norway in one semifinal on Thursday, while Canada takes on Japan. The bronze- and gold-medal games go Saturday.
After Canada and the U.S. traded some early chances, Dixon opened the scoring at 6:47 of the first period when his shot from the point deflected in off Cash's glove.
After Bridges put Canada up 2-0 in the second, Chace pulled the Americans to within a goal by swatting his own rebound past St-Amand at 12:39 of the third, but the U.S. would get no closer.
Earlier Wednesday, Norwegian goalie Kjell Christian Hamar stopped all 14 shots he faced through regulation and overtime, while Japanese netminder Mitsuru Nagase had a 17-save performance and was also credited with a shutout.
Audun Bakke scored for Norway in the first round of the shootout before Satoru Sudo replied for Japan in the third. Vaernes then sealed the victory for the Norwegians by snapping a shot up and over Nagase.
Notes: After the preliminary round, Bridges leads all scorers at the tournament with two goals and six assists. ... After scoring three goals and an assist in U.S.'s first two games, forward Kevin McKee was held off the scoresheet against Canada.