Goaltender and Afghanistan war veteran Dominic Larocque is preparing for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games as a reigning world champion.
At the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Gangneung, South Korea in April 2017, Larocque backstopped Canada to its first gold medal since 2013. He earned two shutouts in the preliminary round, then won both playoff games including a 12-save performance in a 4-1 victory over the U.S. for the gold.
It was after the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, where Canada won bronze, that Larocque decided to switch from the forward position to the goaltending spot.
At Sochi, his first Paralympic Games appearance, Larocque didn’t waste time making his presence felt. He scored two goals in Canada’s tournament opening win over Sweden and added a goal and an assist the following evening against Norway. Larocque played in all five games as Canada won the bronze medal.
Since his accident he has remained in the service of the Canadian Armed Forces, performing administrative duties, maintenance and repair duties. He was introduced to sledge hockey through the Soldier On program, designed to help injured or ill military personnel participate in sport, and also help wounded soldiers readjust to their new life.
Larocque excelled at hockey, soccer and football as a kid. He was already familiar with the rules and theory behind sledge hockey, but had to adjust to the new technique of moving the puck without the aid of his legs. A Montreal club organized a sledge hockey clinic in 2010 and Larocque made an immediate impression. “The most difficult thing to learn is the coordination and control of the puck and moving forward at the same time, because everything is done with the arms,” he says.
Following the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games, he was one of six newcomers to the national sledge hockey team after catching the attention of Team Canada officials at a camp in Petawawa, Ont. Since then he has helped Canada to numerous international successes, including the world title in 2013.