Nation & World News

U.S. Beats Russia To Win Sled Hockey Gold At Sochi Paralympics

By Bill Chappell on March 15th, 2014

It’s the game many Americans wanted to see: USA facing off with Russia on the ice for a gold medal in Sochi. And it’s happening today at the Paralympic Games, where the U.S. is the defending champion in sled hockey.

In the sport many call “murder ball on ice,” Russia had earlier defeated the U.S. in a preliminary round. But Saturday they’re playing for gold. Despite intense interest from their fans, hockey teams from both the host country and the U.S. left Sochi without an Olympic medal last month.

Update at 1:45 p.m. ET: USA Wins Gold Medal

The U.S. defeated Russia 1-0, in a hard-fought match that was decided by a second-period goal. The Americans become the first team in Paralympic history to repeat as gold medalists. The bronze medal goes to Canada.

American Josh Sweeney scored the decisive goal on a breakaway. The Russians had chances to even it with two power plays, but they couldn’t get the puck past a tough U.S. defense and goalie.

After the medal ceremony, all the players stayed on the ice, receiving a loud standing ovation that the audience sustained for several minutes at Shayba Arena. The teams posed for photos on the ice, as horns blared and the crowd chanted for the Russian team.

Our original post continues:

In what organizers say is a first for a Paralympic sport, today’s game will be broadcast live on NBC at noon on the East Coast. You can also watch online at the U.S. Paralympics website (Update at 12:20 p.m.: we’ve embedded the video on this page so you can watch it live).

The U.S. sled hockey team roster includes several military veterans, as NPR’s Quil Lawrence reported last week. The team’s story was recently featured on PBS, in a documentary titled “Ice Warriors.”

Here’s how one member of the team, Joshua Sweeney, told his story on All Things Considered recently:

“I grew up playing hockey in Phoenix, Arizona. I started out roller hockey in junior high and then moved on to ice hockey in high school. Shortly after high school, I joined the Marine Corps and I was injured in 2009. And I had the privilege to go down to San Antonio, Texas for rehab. And while I was there, they had a local sled hockey team that was an all-veteran team and they invited me out to play. And as soon as I saw them on the ice and saw the way they were moving and just the freedom that they had, I knew that I was going to be playing hockey again.”

Beyond the traditional rivalry, today’s game has many compelling storylines. Among them is the outstanding play by two U.S. teenagers. Here are highlights from a preview at the Paralympics site:

“American goaltender Steve Cash has nearly been a brick wall at the last two Paralympics. Until Russia defeated the USA 2-1 in the preliminary round earlier this week, Cash had gone 313 minutes of Paralympic play without allowing a single goal. That is why they nickname him ‘Money.’

“Two American youngsters – 15-year-old Brody Roybal and 16-year-old Declan Farmer – have unexpectedly played out of their minds thus far in Sochi on the USA’s first line. They have played more than 67 and 71 minutes on the ice, respectively, with Farmer tied with Nikko Landeros to lead the team with five points (three goals, two assists).

“Vladimir Kamantcev has been one of the biggest surprises of the Sochi 2014 ice sledge hockey competition so far, playing 135 minutes in the net for Russia and recording a save percentage of 97.37. He has racked up 37 saves, allowing the puck pasts the posts just once, and Russia have won all three games he has played in.”

Organizers also tells us, “Do not forget about the USA’s power forward, Josh Pauls, and his superstitions. He has five good-luck charms during major tournaments, with his most famous being facing his Mr. Potatohead figure toward his opponents’ locker room.”

If you’re new to sled hockey — or “sledge hockey,” as it’s known in much of the world, here’s a quick primer, from the U.S. Paralympics site:

“Just as in ice hockey, sled hockey is played with six players (including a goalie) at a time. Players propel themselves on their sledge by use of spikes on the ends of two three-foot-long sticks, enabling a player to push himself as well as shoot and pass ambidextrously. Rinks and goals are regulation Olympic-size, and games consist of three 15-minute stop-time periods.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Macy’s To Pay $650,000 In Settlement Over Alleged Racial Profiling

The agreement follows a similar deal earlier this month with Barneys. Customers of both department stores said they had been targeted as suspects of theft because of their race.


President Obama leaves after making a statement Wednesday about the killing of journalist James Foley in Syria. The president said the U.S. would continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder.

U.S. Forces Tried To Rescue Foley, Other Hostages In Syria

The mission earlier this summer, based on intelligence from released hostages, “was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” the Pentagon reported.


A memorial of items sit in the middle of the road at the site where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. Any investigation into Brown's fatal shooting by a police officer is likely to take months.

Many Seek Justice In Ferguson, Mo., But Will Have To Wait Awhile

Demonstrators want an indictment of the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown earlier this month. But investigations — one of them a federal civil rights case — can take weeks, if not months.


Killer whales perform in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Florida. SeaWorld says it will not appeal a citation that prohibits trainers from performing with the whales.

SeaWorld Won’t Appeal Ban On Trainers Performing With Orcas

The theme-park company received a citation in 2010 after a whale named Tilikum killed a trainer. Since then, SeaWorld has planned upgrades to its facilities and training. But it still faces criticism.


Supporters and opponents of gay marriage demonstrate outside the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., in May.

Same-Sex Marriages On Hold In Virginia After Supreme Court Weighs In

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked an appeals court ruling that would have allowed gay marriages to begin in Virginia tomorrow.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments