Parahockey: a golden goalkeeper

(Quebec) Dominic Larocque is the Carey Price of parahockey. Before, he was rather a Paul Byron. The big difference with the CH players, except for his leg amputated, is that our man has much less the baboune these days.

While the Montreal Canadiens were getting eliminated on Saturday night, Larocque was returning to Quebec from a long trip to South Korea. The Valcartier soldier carried in his suitcases a very precious souvenir: the gold medal of the World Championships. In fact, it is translucent, with golden writing.

Won a hard fight by a 4-1 victory in the final against the United States, the first four-year win over Canadian sledge hockey players at the expense of their eternal American rivals.

“This is exactly the reason why I decided to become a goaltender,” said the 29-year-old, who made 12 saves in the final game. This may not seem like much, as are the 36 shots received by the Canadian goalkeepers in all seven games of the tournament.

More impact

But he scores more goals. A good parahockey gatekeeper shows an efficiency rate of, 800, four stops every five shots. “I have not been tested much, but I made the stops when I had to. I have more impact in a game like that as a goalkeeper than as an attacker, “he said, noting that he blocked a breakaway in the final, a game where the attacker has around 60% of the chances of scoring.

More crucial stop against the Americans, who align the most amputee players of both legs, so able to shoot on both sides.

He was surprised to see the Swede Ulf Nilsson named best goalkeeper of the Worlds, he who granted 36 goals in seven games. Nilsson stopped 144 washers for a respectable efficiency of 800. Just having to face 180 throws, five times more than his Canadian counterparts, seems to have won him the compassion of the organizing committee. For comparison, Canada scored 49 goals and scored three goals.

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It’s like that. There are Canada, the United States and others. The Russians are good but have been banned from international competitions as a result of the state doping scandal. The Koreans also surprised with a new goalkeeper whose prowess earned them the bronze medal. Convenient, less than a year to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Larocque admits that after having tasted gold in Gangneung arena, only the big victory could satisfy him in the same place in 2018. He already has a Paralympic bronze medal, brought back from Sochi. He was then striker, good second-tier player with an average of one point per game.

It was following the 2014 campaign, seeing goalkeeper number one retire, that he decided to try his luck in front of the net. Several unbelievers on the spot, including some teammates who reminded him after the triumph of last Thursday.

Afghanistan 2007

He had always wanted to be a caretaker. In hockey in the street, young, with his chums , it was he who put the leggings. He was a soccer goalkeeper, also after a career as an attacker.

But that was before his vehicle jumped on an explosive device during a mission to Afghanistan in 2007. Day of which he has no memory. He recalls the day before and woke up three days later at the hospital. But between the two, nothing. One chance, he says 10 years later, saves him from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The sport helped him accept the fact of having lost his left leg under the knee. Larocque saw several soldier friends borrowing “the opposite path of drugs, alcohol, depression”. He said he was well supervised and went to look for the necessary resources.

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He is a graduate and a graphic designer, but his military career is on the brink of ending, he who can no longer meet the newly enhanced fitness criteria. He is soon waiting for his medical release.

Several years already he worked for the Armed Forces only on a very partial basis. Hockey occupies large parts of its schedule.

Since being invited to the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver as part of an Injured Military Support Program. There he discovered this sport and talked with players now become his teammates as captain of the Canadian team Greg Westlake and Billy Bridges. At the time, Quebecer Jean Labonté was also part of the group.

Only Quebecer

Seven months later, Larocque was at the Canadian team’s selection camp. He has just finished his seventh season. He was the only Quebecker in the World Cup. Antoine Lehoux is part of the program, but was not selected for this tournament.

Of the 20 players on the Canadian men’s sledge hockey team, Larocque is the only soldier injured on a mission. In addition to appeasing his thirst for competition, alongside other amputees has enabled him to realize that a normal life is possible even after such a tragedy.