MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Travis Dodson (Deming, N.M.) recorded a hat trick and Kevin McKee (Davenport, Iowa) collected three assists as the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team won its opening game of the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championship 7-1 against Czechia at the Moose Jaw Events Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
“I thought it was a great start to the tournament” said David Hoff (Bottineau, N.D.), head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, “We came out strong in the first and it really set the tone for us moving forward”.
Dodson opened the scoring 4:06 into the contest, crashing the net and smacking home a rebound, after David Eustace (Stoneham, Mass.) rifled a shot on goal from the left faceoff dot. Dodson picked up his second goal of the contest just over three minutes later, once again burying a rebound, this time off a shot from McKee who tallied his second assist of the game on the goal.
With three minutes to go in the opening frame, Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) received a pass from Evan Nichols (Haymarket, Va.) and weaved through defenders before firing a wrister into the top-left corner giving the U.S. a 3-0 lead heading into the break.
In the opening minutes of the middle stanza, the U.S. found itself on a five-on-three penalty kill for over a minute, but successfully killed both penalties thanks to a couple key stops bygoaltender Jen Lee (San Francisco, Calif).
Team USA then extended its lead to 4-0 at 6:11 after Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) fed Malik Jones (Aurora, Colo.) in the slot, who launched it past Czechia netminder Martin Kudela. Just over two minutes later, Farmer scored for his U.S. National Sled Team-record 250th career point off a feed from Roybal in the slot.
Czechia got on the board with 5:17 to go in the frame when Filip Vesely broke free for a breakaway chance that he capitalized on to cut the U.S. lead to 5-1.
The third period began with several high-danger chances for the U.S. that were stifled by Kudela. At the 7:18 mark, McKee fed Dodson on a two-on-one chance, and Dodson capitalized for his third goal of the game, picking up his first career hat trick with assists from McKee on all three goals.
Noah Grove (Frederick, Md.) extended the Team USA’s lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game with a breakaway goal, deking before burying the final goal of the game as the U.S. picked up a 7-1 victory.
The U.S. is back in action tomorrow (May 30) against Korea for its second preliminary-round game. Opening faceoff is set for 5:00 p.m. ET, and can be viewed live on the Paralympics YouTube channel, by clicking HERE.
NOTES: The U.S. outshot Czechia 32-8 … The U.S. was 2-3 on the power play, while Czechia was 0-2 … Travis Dodson (Deming, N.M.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game..