COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 2015 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team was named the Paralympic Team of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee at the 2015 Team USA Awards this evening in Philadelphia.
The Team USA Awards recognize the oustanding achievements of Team USA athletes year-round. Athletes and teams considered for the six Best of the Year awards were finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of the previous year and coinciding with the sport calendar.
“This award recognizes a special group of players,” said Dan Brennan, general manager of the 2015 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. “To finish the season undefeated was an incredible accomplishment and says a lot about the players, staff and volunteers involved in helping our sport grow.”
Team USA went undefeated (12-1-0-0/W-OTW-OTL-L) and ended the season as world champions on home ice. After defeating Russia, 2-1, in overtime to win the 2015 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Leduc, Alberta, the U.S. outscored its opponents 29-1 while going a perfect 5-0 to claim the gold medal at the 2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship. The U.S. finished both tournaments as leaders in goals per game, goals against per game, power play percentage and shutouts. In 13 games, Team USA scored 59 goals, allowed just six goals and set 12 team records to finish the season undefeated for the second time in team history.
The six awards were presented during a live taping of the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year ceremony, held tonight at the University of Pennslyvania's Houston Hall in Philadelphia. The awards show — which featured NBC's Natalie Morales as host and retro pop/soul artist Andra Day as the musical guest — will be televised Dec. 27 on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) from 3-4 p.m. ET.
The year-end celebration also recognized Pennslyvania native Jerri Johnson as the recipient of the Building Dreams Award, presented by USG, which honors an individual, group or community that has gone above and beyond in its support of Team USA.
The six athlete and team award winners were determined by online fan voting at TeamUSA.org/Awards, where nearly 200,000 fan votes determined 50 percent of the final tally. Members of the Olympic and Paralympic family — including an esteemed panel of Olympic and Paralympic journalists — accounted for the other 50 percent.
NOTES: Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) was a finalist for Paralympic Male Athlete of the Year and Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was a finalist for the Olympic Male Athlete of the Year ... USA Hockey led all National Governing Bodies with three finalists ... The 2016 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, which includes 15 players from last year's team, is currently in St. Louis, Missouri. The camp will be the final tune-up for the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, from Jan. 15-24, 2016. For a camp schedule, click here.
Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”
Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future.
USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.
On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.
The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.
The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.
These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.
Tag(s): 2015 Sled Worlds