CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team netted five goals in the second period to defeat Canada, 5-2, in the championship game at the 2016 (Dec.) World Sled Hockey Challenge at MacLauchlan Arena.
The victory gives Team USA (4-1-0-0; W-OTW-OTL-L) an unprecented third-straight World Sled Hockey Challenge championship after claiming titles this past January in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and the 2015 event in Leduc, Alberta. The U.S., which also won the World Sled Hockey Challenge in 2009 and 2012, has now claimed six straight major international titles, a streak that began at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“This week was about 17 players coming together as a team,” said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. “The consistency we’ve been able to have as of late is a testament to their hard work off the ice. It’s an absolute pleasure to coach this group of guys.”
Both teams traded chances throughout the opening period, but Canada entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal from Liam Hickey 6:58 into the period. Goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), named player of the game for the second consecutive World Sled Hockey Challenge championship game, made the initial save before Hickey tapped in the rebound.
Team USA took control of the game in the middle frame, erupting for five goals and outshooting Canada, 10-2. Kevin McKee (Chicago, Ill.) started the scoring just 1:07 into the period when his shot from below the left circle beat Canada’s goaltender Corbin Watson. The play started when Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) entered Canada’s zone and found Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) above the left faceoff dot. Farmer curled towards the middle of the ice and drew a pair of defenders towards him before finding McKee down low for the tying goal.
Just 22 seconds later Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) gave the U.S. the lead with a low glove-side shot from the slot off a pass by Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y). Roybal extended Team USA’s lead to 3-1 less than two minutes later when he skated down the left side and tucked the puck under the crossbar. The goal, assisted by Farmer and Tyler Carron (Fort Collins, Colo.), capped a three-goal span in the first 3:02 of the stanza.
Canada cut Team USA’s lead to one when Brad Bowden scored with 3:20 remaining in the period, but the U.S. regained a two-goal lead just 39 seconds later on the power play off a breakaway goal from Roybal.
Team USA made it 5-2 with 38 seconds left in the frame when Farmer netted his eighth marker of the tournament, which broke a record shared by himself and Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) for the most goals scored by a U.S. player in a single World Sled Hockey Challenge. In addition, Farmer’s 17 points (8-9) also saw him set a new U.S. record for most points by a U.S. player in a single World Sled Hockey Challenge while finishing as the tournament-leading scorer for the third straight World Sled Hockey Challenge.
Cash finished with 14 saves, including seven in the final frame, to backstop Team USA to a 5-2 victory.
NOTES: Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … Both teams finished with 14 shots on goal. Team USA finished 1-for-1 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill … For complete game stats, click here … The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team has now won five World Sled Hockey Challenge titles (2009, 2012, 2015, 2016 (Dec.), 2016 (Jan.), including an unprecedented three-straight … Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) now ranks first all-time in goals (21), assists (26) and points (49) by a U.S. player in World Sled Hockey Challenge history ... The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team has claimed six straight major international tournament titles, including the 2016 (Dec.) World Sled Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I.; the 2016 IPC Sled Hockey Pan-Pacifc Championship in Buffalo, New York; the 2016 (Jan.) World Sled Hockey Challenge in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia; the 2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship in Buffalo, New York; the 2015 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Leduc, Alberta; and the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia … For complete coverage of Team USA at the 2016 (Dec.) World Sled Hockey Challenge, click here.
The United States faces Canada at 3 p.m. ET at MacLauchlan Arena (capacity: 1,350) in the championship game of the 2016 (Dec.) World Sled Hockey Challenge. This is Team USA’s sixth consecutive trip to the tournament’s championship game. Additionally, it is the sixth time the U.S. and Canada will face-off for the tournament title. The game will be updated live on Twitter @USAHockeyScores.
USA VS. CANADA
The two teams met on Wednesday (Dec. 7) in the preliminary round, with the U.S. earning a 2-1 overtime win. Declan Farmer netted two goals, including the game-winner 1:14 into the extra frame. This is the 16th meeting all-time between the U.S. and Canada in nine World Sled Hockey Challenge tournaments.
TEAM USA IN THE WSHC CHAMPIONSHIP
Team USA is 1-3-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in World Sled Hockey Challenge title games. In the 2016 (Jan.) World Sled Hockey Challenge, Josh Pauls scored 7:31 into overtime as the U.S. edged Canada, 3-2, to claim its second-straight title at the event. Pauls also netted the overtime-winner in a 2-1 victory over Russia in the finals of the 2015 tournament. A victory tonight would make the U.S. the first team to claim three-consecutive World Sled Hockey Challenge titles.
TEAM USA AT THE 2016 (Dec.) WSHC
Entering the finals, Declan Farmer is the tournament leader in goals (7) and points (14), while also sharing the tournament lead in assists (7) with Brody Roybal. Steve Cash leads all goaltenders in save percentage (.958). The U.S. has outscored its opponents 22-2, while outshooting the competition 87-31. Team USA is leading the tournament in goals scored (22) and goals against (2).
After recording at least three points in each of the first four games at the 2016 (Dec.) World Sled Hockey Challenge, Declan Farmer now owns the U.S. record for the most points (14) in a single WSHC. He is also tied with himself and Nikko Landeros for the most goals (7) in a WSHC. Steve Cash owns a .958 save percentage entering the finals, which would be the highest save percentage ever recorded by a Team USA goaltender at a WSHC.