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Dunn aims for Paralympic hockey gold

Dunn returning to Paralympic Games

 

 The Wallacetown native aims for gold with the Canadian para hockey team

 

   February 24, 2022

 

team width= James Dunn in action with Team Canada. (photo / Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)

 

 

By Rob J. Ross 

CALGARY, Atla. - James Dunn will be shooting for Paralympic hockey gold.

The 21-year old from Wallacetown is one of 17 players who will be representing Canada with the para ice hockey team (schedule), at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

"I'm really honoured and proud to be able to represent my country and go over and compete for the gold medal," said Dunn, from Calgary, where the team has been training for a month. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's getting down to crunch time."

The team heads to China on Feb 25.

Four years ago, Dunn was the youngest player in Hockey Canada history to wear the maple leaf at the Paralympics. The team brought home silver, falling to the U.S., in the gold medal game.

Now the Dunn returns to the Games as one of Canada's alternates, to team captain Tyler McGregor.

"I'm been working for this for the past few years. It's been challenging times training wise but we were able to get through it," Dunn said. "There were cancellations of tournaments and training camps. It's been a lot more training on our own and in our hubs."

Players from southern Ontario would meet weekly in Toronto for workouts. Back home, Dunn spent hours my himself skating at the West Lorne arena.

"A lot of workouts alone and getting on to the ice alone. It was a lot different, but it's what you had to do to continue training," Dunn said. "It was a lot of driving, but worth it to be able to get on the ice with some of the other guys."

The players are training in Calgary in a hub.

"You're masked all of the time and you only see the hotel and the rink. We spend a lot of time in the hotel room, so I've been watching a lot of the Olympics," Dunn said, "But it's great to have teammates on the ice, building chemistry and pushing you to become a better player."

Dunn has grown vastly as a player since he was a surprise selection as a 17-year old back in 2018.

"The difference now is I'm older and I play a bigger role on the team," Dunn said. "It's just getting stronger and faster, focusing on my skills."

It hasn't been without it's challenges though. Last June, Dunn broke his leg in the opening game of the 2021 world championships, in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

"I was feeling pretty good before the tournament. In the first game, I started off well, I scored a goal. Then the next period I got hit by the front of a sled in weird, awkward way. I ended up breaking my tibula. It took me out for a couple of months."

Dunn returned in time for the Team Canada selection camp, in September, before shining in tune-up matches for the Paralympic Games. Dunn had a goal and two assists in a two-game series against the U.S. and three goals and three assists, over four games against South Korea.

"It was great to come back and compete again. Playing against the States is our biggest challenge. We have a great rivalry."

At the PyeongChang Games, Dunn had two goals and five assists, in the preliminary round. Canada was edged in overtime by the U.S. in the gold medal game.

Upon his return home, Dunn was welcomed back with a parade and ceremony in Dutton.

"It was amazing. It was great to have so much support from home. Everyone rallied together and supported me. It meant a lot."

Canada opens the with the United States, on March 5. The top two teams from the round robin will automatically advance to the semifinals, with the bottom two teams playing in the quarterfinals.

In 2011, Dunn was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, around his 11th birthday. A surgery called rotationplasty was performed on his right leg, which is amputating the leg above the knee but taking the lower part of the leg and foot, rotating it and re-attaching to the thigh bone, so the ankle functions as a knee joint. The foot, acts as a platform for a prosthetic leg to be attached.

While recovering, Dunn was introduced to sledge hockey by McGregor.

Dunn will be cancer free for almost nine years.

 


        rob@hometownplay.ca

 

 

 

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