After a late-night 10-1 semifinal win over Italy last night, the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has the day off today. Tomorrow, the team will take part in its final practice ahead of its gold-medal game tilt against Canada on Sunday (March 18).
THE RIVALRY GOES FOR GOLD
When the puck drops on Sunday, it will mark the first time since sled hockey was introduced in the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games that the United States and Canada will face-off in a Paralympic gold-medal game. Combined, the two teams have won the last four gold medals in Paralympic play, with the U.S. capturing three gold medals (2002, 2010, 2014) while Canada has won gold once (2006).
Puck drop at Gangneung Hockey Center is slated for 12 p.m. local time, making it an 11 p.m. ET puck drop on March 17 back in the United States. The contest will be televised live on NBCSN and also streamed live on NBCOlympics.com.
KEEPING TABS ON LIFE BACK HOME
During its time in Korea, players and staff of Team USA have found various ways to keep tabs on life back home. FaceTime and Skype has been the most popular form of interaction, though a majority of the players have family and friends here in Korea they visit with after each game. For Team USA’s staff, staying in touch with life back home has been a fun challenge. Mike Uihlein, Team USA’s team physician, woke up early one morning to watch his daughter, Brooke, give her high school senior year speech before going back to sleep and waking up to see his family sing her ‘Happy Birthday’. Dan Brennan, general manager of Team USA, has been able to live stream Kansas State University baseball games, where his son Will is in his sophomore campaign after earning two freshman All-America honors in addition to being named Second Team All-Big 12 and All-Big 12 Freshman Team last season.
TITLE GAME REGULARS
In Paralympic and World Championship play, this is the eight consecutive time the U.S. will be playing for a gold medal. In that span, the U.S. is 5-2 while outscoring opponents 14-6. Four of Team USA's gold-medal wins have come via shutout, all by current U.S. netminder Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.).
|2017 Para Sled Hockey World Championship||Gangneung, South Korea||Canada||L, 1-4|
|2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship||Buffalo, New York||Canada||W, 3-0|
|2014 Paralympic Winter Games||Sochi, Russia||Russia||W, 1-0|
|2013 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship||Goyang, South Korea||Canada||L, 0-1|
|2012 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship||Hamar, Norway||Korea||W, 5-1|
|2010 Paralympic Winter Games||Vancouver, British Columbia||Japan||W, 2-0|
|2009 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship||Ostrava, Czech Republic||Norway||W, 1-0|
Including all major international events, the United States is competing in a championship game for the 15th straight time, a span that traces back to the 2011 (April) World Sled Hockey Challenge, where the U.S. finished third. In that span, Team USA has claimed 10 titles, including one Paralympic Winter Games (2014), two IPC Sled Hockey World Championships (2012, 2015), five World Sled Hockey Challenges (2012, 2015, 2016 (Jan.), 2016 (Dec.) and 2017), the 2016 IPC Pan-Pacific Championship and the 2018 Turin Para Ice Hockey International Tournament. The U.S. finished as runner-ups to Canada in the 2017 Para Sled Hockey World Championship, 2013 IPC Sled World Championship, 2013 World Sled Hockey Challenge and the 2011 (Nov.) World Sled Hockey Challenge.
The Paralympic Agitos logo and 2018 Paralympic mascot Bandabi covered in snow at the Paralympic Village
View from above of the PyeongChang Paralympic Village
In Paralympic and World Championship play, Cash is 5-2 in gold medal games with four shutouts