Following their 3-0 win over Canada today, the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team goes on to face Russia in the Gold Medal match on Saturday, March 15. If they win, they will defend their Vancouver Gold medal, making history as the first team to win consecutive Paralympic Games titles.
Known as “sledge hockey” in most of the world, the U.S. calls it “sled hockey.” It was invented in Sweden in the 1960s as a form of rehabilitation, and is designed to allow athletes with physical disabilities (e.g. those with spinal cord injuries or amputations) to play ice hockey.
Of note, four military veterans are part of the U.S. team:
- Goalkeeper Jen Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) – Sergeant, U.S. Army
- Defenseman Rico Roman (Portland, Ore.) – Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army (Retired)
- Forward Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) – Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
- Forward Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
According to SledHockeyUSA.org:
Equipment for this sport consists of a light weight tubular framed sled, about 4-5 feet long and approximately 3 inches off the ice, with two hockey skate blades mounted beneath the seat. A portion of the front frame rests on the ice and provides lateral stability. Straps around the ankles, knees and waist securely hold the player on the sled. Two 1.5 feet “sticks” are used. The sticks are modified hockey sticks with 4 cm teeth attached to the bottom of the non-blade end. Leaning left or right while digging the stick into the ice, turns the sled. Players slide to a stop on one or both blades like a skater. All players wear regulation protective hockey equipment.
Don’t miss it! NBC will air the Gold medal game – US vs. Russia – at 1pm ET on Saturday, March 15.