VANCOUVER, B.C. - The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team won its second-ever gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games thanks to a 2-0 shutout victory over Japan this afternoon. Team USA did not surrender a goal in all five of its games at the tournament, outscoring its opponents, 19-0.
With the victory, the U.S. becomes the first-ever team to claim its second Paralympic Winter Games sled hockey gold medal. Team USA last won gold at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"I could not be more proud of our players," said Ray Maluta, head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. "These guys have given us so much over the last few years to get to this point. They've grown as athletes, players and men, and I'm lucky to have been a part of this ride."
Team USA took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the first period on the power play. Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.) fired a shot towards the front of the net, where it was stopped by Japan goalie Mitsuru Nagase. During the ensuing scramble, Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) located the loose rebound, dragged the puck out of traffic and flipped a backhand shot over the sprawling goaltender.
Japan nearly tied the game early in the second period when Andy Yohe (Bettendorf, Iowa) was whistled for interfering with a breakaway, leading to a penalty shot. Japan captain Takayuki Endo snapped a shot towards the top right corner of the net, but was denied by the glove of U.S. goalie Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.).
Following a flurry of chances for Japan in the third period, the U.S. put the game away on the power play with less than two minutes remaining. Howard threw a shot low towards the front of the goal where Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) was parked. Team USA's leading scorer redirected the puck under the sled of Nagase for his fifth goal of the tournament and the United States' second power-play goal of the night.
Cash finished the night with five saves, and stopped all 33 shots faced in five games played at the tournament.
NOTES: Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) was named the top defenseman of the tournament, while Steve Cash was named the top goaltender by the tournament directorate ... Team USA went 2-for-3 on the power play, while Japan was 0-for-3 with the man advantage ... The U.S. scored a power-play goal in all five of its games ... The U.S. allowed double-digit shots against only once in five games at the tournament (12 - March 18 vs. Norway) ... Team USA, with an average age of 23.8, was the youngest team at the tournament by nearly seven years (Canada - 30.7) ... Sweden (1994), Norway (1998), and Canada (2006) are the other gold-medal winners of past Paralympic Winter Games sled hockey tournaments ... Last night (March 19), Norway defeated Canada, 2-1, to claim the bronze medal ... Several members of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team sent e-mails of support to the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, including Chris Drury,Jamie Langenbrunner, head coach Ron Wilson and general manager Brian Burke... The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team captured the bronze medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy ... Full coverage of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, including a team roster, photos, features, and game notes are available atusahockey.com … The 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, consisting of 15 of the 18 members of the 2009-10 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, was named in December.
Scoring By Period
JPN 0 - 0 - 0 - 0
USA 1 - 0 - 1 - 2
First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Salmone (Howard, Lipsett), 4:10 (pp). Penalties: JPN, Misawa (interference), 2:22; USA, Yohe (elbowing), 4:44; USA, Howard (roughing), 11:47.
Second Period - Scoring: None. Penalties: USA, Yohe (interference), 1:40.
Third Period - Scoring: 2, USA, Lipsett (Howard), 13:42 (pp). Penalties: JPN, Ishida (roughing), 4:56; USA, Lipsett (interference), 6:31; JPN, Ito (holding), 13:05.
Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
JPN 1 0 4 5
USA 5 6 5 16
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
JPN, Nagase 45:00 5-4 6-6 5-4 16-14
USA, Cash 45:00 1-1 0-0 4-4 5-5
Power Play: JPN 0-3; USA 2-3
Penalties: JPN 3-6; USA 3-6
Officials: Petter Vojan Hegle (referee); Steven Richardson (linesman), Toode Maksim (linesman)