The 2016 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team is in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, for the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge. Tournament play begins Sunday (Jan. 17) and will conclude on Saturday, Jan. 23. A daily Team USA notebook can be found below.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23
GAMEDAY: USA vs. CANADA, CHAMPIONSHIP
The United States faces Canada tonight in the championship game of the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge here at Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (capacity: 1,200) in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. This is Team USA’s fifth consecutive trip to the tournament’s championship game. Additionally, it is the fifth time the two teams will face-off for the tournament title. For full gameday details, click here.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team was given the day off by the coaching staff after facing Canada on Wednesday (Jan. 20; OTL, 2-1) and Russia yesterday (Jan. 21; W, 2-1). The players participated in a self-created shinny-tournament in the team room. Some players visited the hotel's pool where they took trips down the water-slide.
LAST GAME: USA 2, RUSSIA 1
Declan Farmer and Kevin McKee each recorded two points and Brody Roybal scored the game-winning goal in the third period as the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeated Russia, 2-1, in the semifinals of the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge. Tyler Carron was named the U.S. Player of the Game. For a complete game recap, click here.
Tomorrow (Jan. 23), the U.S. will face Canada in the championship game of the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge. Puck drop is slated for 4 p.m. ET. Team USA fell to Canada in a shootout, 2-1, on Wednesday (Jan. 20) to close preliminary round play. This is the fifth consecutive time Team USA has reached the championship game of the World Sled Hockey Challenge(First: 2012, 2015; Second: 2012, 2015).
DINNER WITH TEAM HOSTS
Thursday night (Jan. 21), Team USA players and staff enjoyed a steak and lobster dinner at the home of Cam Seamone, one of Team USA's hosts here in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. The team also presented signed Team USA jerseys to the two hosts, Cam, and Jennifer Milbury, for their tireless efforts in assisting the team throughout the event.
U.S. RECORD BREAKERS
Several current U.S. players find themselves atop U.S. record lists in WSHC tournament play.
On Thursday (Jan. 21), Declan Farmer set a new U.S. record for most points in a single WSHC with 10 (6-4) and is one goal away from tying Nikko Landeros’ U.S. record for most goals (7) in a WSHC, which he set in April 2011. Kevin McKee’s seven assists in a single WSHC are also a new U.S. record, surpassing Farmer’s six-assist performance in last year’s tournament. Additionally, McKee’s nine points (2-7) overall tie Farmer’s point total from last year for second all-time. Steve Cash finished last year’s tournament with a 0.66 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage, both of which are Team USA bests in a single WSHC.
Among U.S. players, Kevin McKee holds the record for most career WSHC points with 31 (14-17). Josh Pauls leads all U.S. players with 17 career WSHC goals while Nikko Landeros is second with 15. Pauls (17-13--30) and Landeros (15-15--30) both sit one point behind McKee for most career WSHC points and Declan Farmer (13-15--28) trails McKee by two.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
The United States faces Russia today in semifinal action in the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge here at Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (capacity: 1,200) in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. The game will be streamed live on FASTHockey.com. Visit the gameday page by clicking here.
Declan Farmer is one point away from tying his U.S. record for most points (9) in a WSHC and two goals away from tying Nikko Landeros’ U.S. record for most goals (7) in a WSHC. Additionally, Kevin McKee is one assist away from Farmer’s U.S. record for most assists (6) in a WSHC and two points away from Farmer’s record for most points in a WSHC. For Team USA history in the WSHC, click here.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team outshot Canada, 28-13, but fell in a shootout, 3-2. Kevin McKee tallied a goal and an assist and Nikko Landeros was named the U.S. Player of the Game. For a complete game recap, click here.
Captain Josh Sweeney reflected on Team USA’s first loss since March 11, 2014 (2-1 vs. Russia in the preliminary round of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games), “It is what it is. That’s part of the love of the game; nothing is certain. As much as you would love to you can’t expect to win every game. We just need to look at what we didn’t do and learn from the loss; otherwise, we won’t get better as a team.”
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team has practice today from 11:30am-12:30pm ET. Practice will include an emphasis on defense and special teams before concluding with a traditional shootout. The practice is Team USA's final tune-up for its tilt tomorrow (Jan. 20) against Canada. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on FASTHockey.com.
TEAM USA IN 2016 WSHC
Through two games, Declan Farmer leads the tournament in goals (5) and points (7) while Josh Pauls and Kevin McKee share the tournament lead in assists with four. As a team, the United States ranks first in goals scored (14), goals-per-game (7), power-play percentage (50%) and penalty-kill percentage (100%).
During time away from the rink, players have taken to playing mini-sticks, Xbox, cards and even venturing outside for some sledding. This evening the team will be attending the local movie theatre where players and staff will have the choice of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens or The Revenant.
MONDAY, JANUARY 18
TODAY'S GAME: USA 6, RUSSIA 2
Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) scored twice and Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) made nine saves as the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeated Russia, 6-2. Dan McCoy (Cheswick, Pa.), Kevin McKee (Chicago, Ill.), Adam Page (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) also scored in the win. McCoy was named the U.S. Player of the Game. A full recap can be found here.
Tomorrow Team USA will have practice from 11:30-12:30pm ET before Wednesday's game against Canada. Puck drop is set for 6p.m. ET and will be streamed live on FASTHockey.com.
HE SAID IT
Reflecting on teammate Declan Farmer's hat-trick versus Korea, Josh Pauls said, "He does pretty much everything. He scores a lot; he back checks hard. It's crazy to say he's 18 years old and already has another hat trick. It's kind of unheard of but he's such a solid player. We're really glad to have him, especially on our top line with Brody and Kevin they've been playing really well together."
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17
TODAY'S GAME: USA 8, KOREA 1
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team opened the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge with an 8-1 victory over Korea. Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) scored a hat trick, Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) recorded four points, and four other players had multi-point games in the win. Farmer was named the U.S. Player of the Game. A complete game recap can be found here.
Team USA returns to action tomorrow when it faces Russia in its second game of the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge. Puck drop is set for 11 a.m. ET and will be streamed live at FASTHockey.com. Last year, the two teams met in the championship game of the World Sled Hockey Challenge where the U.S. won, 2-1, in overtime.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16
Team USA is back on the ice here in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, for its last practice before opening WSHC play against Korea tomorrow at 11am ET. While yesterday's practice included 3-on-3 battles, today's practice focused on special teams and will conclude with the traditional shootout competition.
TEAM USA TAKES IN JUNIOR A HOCKEY
Several members of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team stopped by the LCLC Clearwater Seafoods Arena last nigh to watch the South Shore Lumberjacks take on the Pictou County Weeks Crushers. In an entertaining matchup, the Crushers defeated the local Lumberjacks, 3-1.
NFL PLAYOFFS ON THE MIND TONIGHT
With the tournament set to start tomorrow, Team USA looks to keep things light tonight by taking in the NFL playoff games, particularly the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals. Led by head coach Jeff Sauer and team doctor Mike Uihlein, both of whom are from Wisconsin, the Packers will have more than a few fans here in Bridgewater.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team arrived safely in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, for the World Sled Hockey Challenge that is set to begin Sunday (Jan. 17). The tournament is Team USA's first of the 2016 campaign and will see them defend their title from 2015 against Canada, Korea and Russia.
LUNENBURG COUNTY LIFESTYLE CENTRE
The 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge is being staged at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre. Within the facility is the LCLC Clearwater Seafoods Arena, which boasts a full NHL-size ice surface and the capacity to seat up to 1,200 spectators.
VISIT FROM THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
At the conclusion of practice yesterday, Honorary Colonel Dan Hennessey and several other members of the Royal Canadian Air Force visited the Team USA locker room where they shared their passion for hockey and expressed their gratitude at the players' dedication to the sport.
SIX PURPLE HEARTS
Of the 17 members on the 2016 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, six are purple heart recipients. Four players -- Luke McDermott, Josh Misiewicz, Paul Schaus and Josh Sweeney -- helped Team USA to an undefeated season and the 2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship last year while Rico Roman is back with the national team after helping Team USA claim gold at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Additionally, Bo Reichenbach, who served as an alternate captain for the U.S. Developmental Sled Hockey Team last year, is in his first season with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
SPUDS THE DEVIL
Prior to the team's trip to Canada, Team USA alternate captain and New Jersey native Josh Pauls was fortunate to meet several members of the New Jersey Devils during the team's visit to St. Louis. The meeting, arranged by Devils broadcaster, Sherry Ross, included tickets to the game, being a second intermission interview guest and the opportunity to meet several Devils players after the game. Among the players Pauls met was Kyle Palmieri, who helped the U.S. National Junior Team to a pair of medals at the World Junior Championship, including gold in 2010 and bronze in 2011, and Cory Schneider, who helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2004 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship and was later named the David Peterson Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey.
NOTES: Team USA has reached the tournament's championship game five times and finished first on three occasions (2009, 2012, 2015). For more information on Team USA in the World Sled Hockey Challenge, click here ... The United States roster is highlighted by captain Josh Sweeney (Portland, Ore.); alternate captains Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) and Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.); and goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.). For the complete U.S. roster, click here ... The 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge will be streamed live at FASTHockey.com. For more tournament information, click here ... Follow all U.S. games during the World Sled Hockey Challenge via Twitter by using @USAHockey and @USAHockeyScores, and join the conversation by using the hashtag #WSHC ... Team USA has won four of the last five major international events, including the 2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship in Buffalo, New York; the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; the 2012 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship in Hamar, Norway; and the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia ... Dan Brennan (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of sled and inline national teams for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the 2016 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team ... Jeff Sauer (Madison, Wis.), former men's ice hockey head coach at the University of Wisconsin, is in his fifth season as head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. Additional staff members include team physician Mike Uihlein (Grafton, Wis.), athletic trainer Mike Cortese (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and equipment manager Joel Isaacson (Houghton, Mich).
Someone once said that, “Officiating is the only vocation where you are expected to start out perfect and then only get better from there.” It’s true, officials face plenty of scrutiny every time they step on to the ice, and it’s unlikely that you will be able to please both teams with every call throughout the course of the game.
To make our job even more unique, you get a variety of “input” from players, coaches and spectators about your performance. Sometimes you’ll take those comments to heart in order to improve, other times you’ll tune the chatter out, knowing it’s not exactly helpful.
When it comes to our job in managing officials registration and education programs, things aren’t that much different. The Officiating Program leadership, made up of the Officials Section which is comprised of volunteer district referees-in-chief charged with establishing policy, finds it difficult to keep our 25,000 officiating members happy all of the time, while also balancing a commitment to the game of providing capable officiating.
They too hear a lot of chatter throughout the season, some of which is simply impractical and self-serving and tends to get tuned out, while some of it is heard loud and clear as legitimate concerns or ideas on how things could be improved. In any case, time is needed to explore the effect on the big picture and carefully think through all the possible ramifications of any change that is made for the betterment of the entire program, and ultimately, the game itself.
Consider the beginning of the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program back in 1983 when Mark Rudolph was brought in as the first director of the Officiating Education Program. It started with manuals, then the establishment of the summer development camps and instructor training programs, followed by the development of a more formal seminar program and open-book testing. It has continued to evolve to become the internationally recognized program you are part of today.
Along the way, there has been a tremendous amount of change taking place – much of which was actually suggested and encouraged by you, our membership. The digital age started electronic registration, then electronic testing, and more recently, the development of the online seminar curriculum. All of these ideas came from voices within our membership and USA Hockey’s leadership listened.
Sure, there have been a few naysayers suggesting we will lose membership as we make certain changes, or they say that we demand too much from our officials. After all, change is rarely easy and some people just don’t like it because it alters their routines. However, over the years and regardless of the changes that have taken place, the Officiating Program has seen growth in membership in 30 of the 35 years, and has continued to do business with only a couple of moderate fee increases. It is also important to realize that when change does occur, time is necessary to be able to fully evaluate the effect of that change. That has been especially true with the significant change in implementing the online seminar curriculum, now in its fourth season. This part of the educational process has been tweaked each season and culminated with a significant reduction in the time commitment necessary to complete all of the modules during the 2017-18 season.
Now that time has passed and as technology continues to advance, the Officials Section has spent the past 10 months evaluating our registration/education program and continuing to listen to membership feedback in an effort to continue to streamline the registration process while maximizing the educational benefit. The work of a sub-committee charged with this task has recently been completed and presented to the entire Officials Section, and received a positive response. Much of the specifics and details of the recommended changes moving forward will be finalized in the coming months, but we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the likely proposed changes to the registration process you will see for the 2018-19 season.