With an 8-0 victory over host Korea on Tuesday, the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team capped off the preliminary round unblemished, earning three victories while outscoring its opponents 28-0.
En route to earning the top seed in Group B and a semifinal matchup vs. Italy on Thursday (March 15), Team USA worked its way to the top of numerous team and individual statistical categories here in South Korea.
The American attack has been powered by forwards Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) and Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.), who find themselves 1-2 among all point-getters in the competition. Farmer leads the group with 13 points on eight goals and five assists, while Roybal has eight goals and four helpers. Their eight tallies are a tournament-high.
Backstopping the U.S. in net are net minders Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) and Jen Lee (San Francisco, Calif.), who have combined for three shutouts. Cash leads all netminders with two shutouts in PyeongChang having saved all 17 shots he faced against the Czech Republic and Korea. Cash, a four-time Paralympian, has now earned 11 victories and 10 shutouts in 12 Paralympic starts. Lee also notched a shutout in the opening game vs. Japan to bring his career record in a Team USA uniform to 8-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L).
As a trio, Cash, Farmer and Roybal each find themselves either atop the U.S. Paralympic record boards or on the verge of setting new U.S. records. Among Team USA's best-ever performances in a single Paralympics, Farmer and Roybal's eight goals apiece sit just four goals behind the U.S. record set by Sylvester Flis in 2002. In addition, Farmer's 13 points is just five points shy of Flis' 18-point effort in 2002 while Roybal sits six points back. In net, Cash is looking to maintain his clean-sheet performance as he aims to match his own U.S. records in goals-against-average (0.00) and save percentage (1.00), which was set by winning five-straight games via shutout in 2010.
Among U.S. Paralympic career records, Farmer is currently tied for the most Paralympic goals in a Team USA uniform with 11 markers between Sochi and PyeongChang while Roybal sits just behind him with 10. Farmer is also tied for second all-time with 18 career Paralympic points. Meanwhile, Cash looks to extend his U.S. career-best marks in goals-against average (0.17), save percentage (.979), wins (11) and shutouts (10). In 13 games played, of which 12 came by starts, Cash holds an 11-1 record through 481 minutes of play.
One other current U.S. Paralympian on the verge of setting new U.S. Paralympic records is alternate captain Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.). With six assists in the 2018 Paralympics and 13 in his career (2010 & 2014 Paralympics), he is just three assists shy of establishing new U.S. records in both categories. Joe Howard, who played in four Paralympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) holds the current records with eight assists (2002) and 15 in a Team USA uniform all-time.
As a team, the United States enters the medal round as the least-penalized team in the competition having only committed seven minor penalties through three games. Team USA is tied with Canada with zero goals allowed and a perfect penalty-kill percentage, while also being a close second to its North American rival in power-play percentage (54.5%), shorthanded goals (2) and shooting percentage (35.4%).
With the preliminary round over, the United States turns its focus to the medal round and the goal of an unprecedented third straight Paralympic gold. The U.S. takes on an Italian team (March 15 – 8 p.m. local/7 a.m. ET) that earned victories over Norway and Sweden to take the second seed in Group B.
The teams met twice at the Turin Para Ice Hockey International Tournament back in January, with the U.S. defeating Italy twice by the score of 6-0. The contest will be streaming live on NBCOlympics.com, in addition to being televised on NBCSN on a tape-delayed broadcast that begins at 2 p.m. ET.
The winner is set to take on the victor of the Canada/Korea semifinal matchup for Paralympic gold on Sunday, March 18 at 12 p.m. local time/11 p.m. ET on March 17.
|Sun., March 11||Japan
|W, 10-0||Gangneung Hockey Centre|
|Mon., March 12||Czech Republic
|W, 10-0||Gangneung Hockey Centre|
|Tues., March 13||Korea
|W, 8-0||Gangneung Hockey Centre|
|Thurs., March 15||Italy
|W, 10-1||Gangneung Hockey Centre|
|Sun., March 18||Canada
|W, 2-1 (OT)||Gangneung Hockey Centre|