TORONTO – Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) scored twice and Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) recorded three points to help the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeat Russia, 4-1, in the semifinals of the 2013 World Sledge Hockey Challenge here today.
“I was pleased with our game, and we played better than we did yesterday against Canada,” said head coach Jeff Sauer. “I thought we had a much better start today than we did against Canada, but the bottom line is Russia is a good team that plays very smart hockey. I was pleased with how we adjusted to that style of play, scored some goals and got the victory.”
After a scoreless first period in which the United States held a 6-2 advantage in shots on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net, Pauls wasted little time changing that trend in the middle frame.
Just 19 seconds into the second stanza, Farmer knocked a puck to Pauls in the neutral zone, sending him in on a breakaway. Pauls deked, moved to his right and fired a shot off the crossbar and in to give Team USA a 1-0 lead.
Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) doubled the U.S. lead when he got a stick on a rebound in the crease at 7:33 of the second. After a Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) attempt was stopped, Schaus won a race to the loose puck in the crease and pushed it past Russian goaltender Mikhail Ivanov.
Then, just under four minutes later, Pauls and Farmer connected again to boost the Team USA lead to 3-0. Farmer worked the play behind the Russia net and left a drop pass for Pauls at the side of the goal. Pauls got to the edge of the crease and slipped the puck in before Ivanov could get back to his post.
Farmer added an insurance marker – a power-play tally 5:33 into the final period – with help from Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) to close the Team USA scoring.
United States goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) started the game in net, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Jen Yung Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) relieved Cash with 5:14 remaining in regulation and made two saves.
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team will next play Saturday night against either Canada or Korea in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge championship game. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
|Dec. 1||Russia||W, 2-1|
|Dec. 2||Korea||W, 5-0|
|Dec. 4||Canada||L, 1-4|
|Dec. 5||Russia (Semifinal)||W, 4-1|
|Dec. 7||Canada (Championship Game)||L, 1-3|
Sept. 1, 2015 | More than 40,000 spectators, plus a national television audience, watched the Little League World Series this past Sunday on a glorious afternoon in Pennsylvania. There were smiles, cheers, entertainment and the noticeable absence of demand for those 12- and 13-year-olds to pitch from 60 feet, six inches or run 90 feet between the bases like their professional baseball heroes.
Right-sized baseball and softball fields, along with age-appropriate rule modifications, have been accepted wisdom in youth baseball for more than 50 years.
Coincidentally, while Little League was paring to its finalists, U.S. Soccer announced a nationwide initiative to improve youth skill development. The centerpiece was a shift to small-sided game formats and field sizes to be phased in across the country by August 2017. As part of the new plan, American soccer at U6, U7 and U8 will be played 4v4 on a pitch approximately one-eighth the size of an adult soccer field. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play 7v7 on a one-quarter-scale pitch. Not until age 13 will players begin competing 11v11 on a regulation adult-sized pitch.
“Our number one goal is to improve our players down the road, and these initiatives will help us do that,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director. “In general, we would like for players to be able to process information faster, and when they are in this (new) environment, they are going to learn to do that. Fast forward 10 years, and there are thousands of game situations added to a player’s development.”
With this change, American soccer will join sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, all of which have embraced the skill-development benefits of age-appropriate playing dimensions and competition formats (see chart below).
Those benefits are at the core of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was recently praised by the Sports Business Journal as a “trailblazing program.”