Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Soldier Switches from Forward to Goal on Canada's Paralympic Hockey Team

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Soldier Switches from Forward to Goal on Canada's Paralympic Hockey Team

Article excerpt

Soldier switches to goal for Canada

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Puzzled looks and furrowed brows greeted Dominic Larocque when he showed up in goalie gear at a Canadian para ice hockey team camp.

Why a top-six forward would choose to pick up the "tools of ignorance" mystified his teammates.

Larocque had just helped Canada win a bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, with three goals and an assist in five games.

"I didn't want him to switch to goalie," his teammate Greg Westlake recalled. "I didn't like it at first."

New to coaching the national para hockey team in the fall of 2015, Ken Babey knew Larocque had been a productive forward.

"When you have one of the top six forwards from the Paralympics switching to goal, it was kind of like 'uh, I don't know if you want to do this right now,'" Babey said.

But Larocque had secretly craved the responsibility and unforgiving nature of the position, even when he was an able-bodied forward for the Junior A Valleyfield Braves.

"Since I was a kid I dreamed to be a goalie," Larocque said. "When I was a kid, I was centre for 10 to 12 years. After that, I went into the army."

Cpl. Larocque of the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Van Doos, lost his left leg in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2007 when the armoured vehicle he was in rolled over improvised explosive device.

The 30-year-old from Quebec City came to sledge hockey via Soldier On, which is a program linking injured Canadian soldiers to sport.

Larocque was the first athlete from the program to become a Winter Paralympian. He's one of 10 veterans from the 2014 para hockey squad taking another run at gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The 17-member para ice hockey team is the largest contingent of athletes on Canada's Paralympic team of 55 also competing in curling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and snowboarding.

The opening ceremonies are Friday. The Canadian Paralympic Committee says the goal for the team is to increase the number of podium finishes from 2014, where Canadians won 16 medals (seven gold, two silver, seven bronze).

The team opens the preliminary round Saturday versus Sweden. …

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