The 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team meets Italy tonight in the semifinal round of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. Tonight's winner will advance to the gold-medal game, where it will face the winner of the Canada-Korea semifinal. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at Gangneung Hockey Center and 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.
THINGS TO KNOW
In Paralympic semifinal play, the United States holds a 2-1 record with its lone loss coming in 2006 to Norway (4-2) ... Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal have a tournament-best eight goals each. Farmer's 13 points lead all skaters while Roybal is second with 12 ... Steve Cash, Declan Farmer, Nikko Landeros and Brody Roybal are each on the verge of setting new U.S. Paralympic records ... Team USA's 28 goals in tournament play is the most its ever scored in a single Paralympics ... Yesterday, Team USA attended a Korean BBQ restaurant for dinner and was joined by USA Hockey president, Jim Smith, and USA Hockey's Disabled Section Chairperson, JJ O'Connor ... After Team USA's win on March 13, it presented Larry Beundorf, chief security officer for the United States Olympic Committee, with a signed U.S. Paralympic jersey.
THE SERIES VS. ITALY
The two teams are meeting for the fifth time this season. At the 2017 World Sled Hockey Challenge, the U.S. skated to a 10-0 preliminary round win before beating Italy, 5-1, in the semifinal. Then, at the 2018 Turin Para Ice Hockey International Tournament in Turin, Italy, the two teams faced off in the tournament-opening game, which Team USA won, 6-0, before meeting again in the championship game that ended in another 6-0 victory for the U.S.
Between Paralympic and World Championship play, this is the sixth time the U.S. is facing Italy. A year ago, the two teams met in preliminary-round play of the 2017 Para Sled Hockey World Championship, where the U.S. skated to a 9-1 win. At the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the U.S. edged Italy, 5-1.
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
Today's semifinal matchups features the top two seeds of each group. While Team USA and Canada each swept its preliminary round with three wins apiece, both Korea and Italy advanced with matching 1-1-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) records.
Of the four teams, the U.S. is the least-penalized team 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 in power-play percentage (54.5%), goals scored (28), shooting percentage (35.4%) and shorthanded goals (2).
IN GOAL TODAY
Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) is the likely starter for Team USA today for the third straight game. Thus far, he has stopped all 17 shots faced while leading the U.S. to wins over the Czech Republic (10-0) and host Korea (8-0).
A three-time Paralympic medalist (gold: 2010, 2014; bronze: 2006), Cash has won 11 games in 12 starts while collecting a 0.17 GAA, .979 SV% and 10 shutouts. In 10 games this season, Cash has posted a 9-1 (W-L) record that includes a 0.80 goals-against-average, .927 save percentage and five shutouts.
U.S. PLAYERS LEADING THE TOURNAMENT
Team USA has a trio of players atop the tournament standings. Alternate captain Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) has a tournament-best 13 points while his eight goals is tied with teammate Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) for first among all skaters. In goal, Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) leads all netminders with two shutout wins.
CHASING U.S. PARALYMPIC RECORDS
Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.), Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) and Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) 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 five points shy of Flis' 18-point effort in 2002 while Roybal sits six points back. Landeros is also three assists shy of setting a new U.S. record for assists in a single Paralympics. In net, Cash aims to maintain his clean-sheet performance as he chases his own U.S. records set in 2010 in goals-against-average (0.00) and save percentage (1.00).
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 while Landeros is two assists away from tying the U.S. career record of 15 set by Joe Howard. 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 were starts, Cash holds an 11-1 record.
|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|