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U.S. Downs China to Advance to Gold Medal Game

By Kyle Huson, 03/11/22, 1:00PM EST


The U.S. tops host China 11-0

BEIJING — As the U.S. prepared for the semifinals against China, they knew it was going to be a hostile environment. A fun, but hostile environment. The host country has brought a large fanbase to every competition thus far in the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, and as the stakes got higher, the U.S. this would not be any different.

And they were right. The energy was in the building from the drop of the puck. Loud chants and cheers from the home crowd filled the building. The U.S. silenced those cheers early on when Brody Roybal scored back-to-back goals midway through the first period. A Josh Misiewicz goal was added to the lead and, similar to his teammate Jack Wallace, Roybal completed the hat trick in the first period. Declan Farmer set Roybal up for all three of his goals, and with that, set the all-time U.S. assists record at the Paralympics.

“It’s always fun playing with Declan. He is a special type of player and he just creates amazing opportunities for whoever he is out there playing with. The kid always shocks the world, and he set me up for a lot of good opportunities all night.”

Roybal would add a fourth goal to boot in the third period. The four-goal contest perhaps added to his overall experience of playing against China.

“China was so much fun to play, this being our first time getting to play them. They came out and brought it tonight. It was really cool to play China in Beijing and to have all of those fans out there watching and cheering for them was a really special opportunity for all of us.”

Head coach David Hoff remembers a few years back when China was not competing in the top group and was really a new program trying to figure things out from a sled hockey front. He recalled a time in 2017 when China was filming the U.S. how to get into their sleds and looking at the different equipment. He was impressed by how far they have come in a short amount of time. 

“They were looking at sleds, looking at technology. I visited with them before one of our practice sessions [in 2017]. They were doing anything they could to make their program better. I’m one who says if you add one more good team to sled hockey, that’s good for the sport. So hats off to them. I know the score probably isn’t the way they wanted it to be, but they were playing a pretty good hockey team tonight.”

He also felt like the atmosphere of the crowd was good for his team.

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“Tonight just playing China in Beijing, it was a great challenge for us and I think our guys were excited about the opportunity. This is a lot of fun to play in an environment like this. In sled hockey, you don’t always get these opportunities so it was a lot of fun for our guys for sure.”

The U.S. felt like they have been improving each and every game. The 11 goals in the semifinal showed the depth of the team, with many guys getting in on the action. The goal all tournament has been to be playing their best hockey by the time the gold-medal matchup came along, and they feel like they are doing that.

Paralympic Roster

Now, it’s a matter of preparing in one final practice before the big matchup against Canada on the final day of the Paralympics. They know that it is always a tough matchup against one of the best teams in the world.

“I think ultimately our goal is to get better every time we are on the ice, and I think we did succeed in that,” said U.S. captain, Josh Pauls. “I think we still have some things to clean up, but we can celebrate this victory tonight and then tomorrow we need to move forward because winning that gold medal is what our ultimate goal is.”

2022 Paralympic Notebook

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