Sixty male and female sled hockey players ages 12-36 arrived in Amherst, New York Sunday evening to take part in the 2019 Sled Hockey Player Development Camp.
During camp, players are evaluated by USA Hockey’s national staff, while being mentored by top-level coaches & Paralympic gold medalists. Players have the opportunity to gain knowledge about their development by measuring themselves against others in their age group in a competitive setting.
"We're excited to bring the top sled players in the country together for a week of intense training," said J.J. O'Connor, chair of USA Hockey's Disabled Section and camp director, "It also allows our national team staff to get a first-hand look at the players coming up through our system."
Players gathered for an action-packed first full day of camp on Monday that included on-ice practices, classroom sessions and the first round of scrimmages.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones joined USA Hockey president Jim Smith to give sled hockey a try at Player Development Camp.
Two goals apiece from Evan Nichols and Brett Bolton put the red team on top, 6-4, against the white team in a neck-and-neck competition to kick things off. John Curtin and Malik Jones each finished with a pair of assists for the red team. David Eustace, Erik Knotts and Joey Woodke all recorded two points for the white team, bringing home a goal and an assist each in the opening scrimmage. Red team goaltender Chase Molinari finished with 20 stops, while Will Hurlock made 18 saves for the white team.
A hat trick from Ben Musselman lifted the gold team to victory as it opened camp with a 4-1 win over the royal blue team. Chris McCoy and Ben Maenza each earned a point for the gold team, tallying a goal and an assist, respectively. Rob Easley netted the only goal for the royal blue team with the assist from Jacob Jones. Both the royal blue team and the gold team split time between goalies. Royal team goaltender duo, Sean Gallagher and Taggart VanderMoler, combined for 11 saves while the gold team pair, Ryan Hannan and Kyle Huckaby, stopped a combined 18 shots.
David Hoff (Bottineau, N.D.), who led the United States to the gold medal at the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic last season, returns as head coach of the 2019-20 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, USA Hockey announced today.
Last season, Hoff guided the United States to a 10-1-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, including an undefeated 4-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record at the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship to capture Team USA's fourth gold medal in world championship history. In his international head coaching debut, Hoff also guided the U.S. to a perfect 5-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record at the 2018 Para Hockey Cup for the program's unprecedented fifth consecutive title in the event.
For more information on the coaching staff, click here.