SOCHI, Russia -- Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) had a pair of goals, Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) collected a single tally and added an assist and defenseman Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) notched three assists to help the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team begin the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games with a 5-1 victory over Italy today at Shayba Arena.
Late in a tightly contested opening stanza -- one that saw both teams generate chances early -- Team USA was able to break through for the game's first goal. While on the power play, Farmer gathered the puck on the left side of the slot and beat Italian goaltender Santino Stillitano with a quick shot at 13:45 to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Neither team found the back of the net again until 11:12 of the second period when Roybal grabbed a rebound and tucked it into the top corner for a 2-0 lead.
Seconds after a tough stick save by Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) capitalized on a turnover in Italy's zone 3:04 into the third period. Sweeney had a semi-breakaway from the right side and reached around the goalie to push the puck inside the left post.
In the final five minutes, an Italian goal was sandwiched between a pair of U.S. markers. Roybal buried his second of the game after Team USA exited its own end with speed and made a nice passing play on the rush. Then, with just five seconds left in the contest, Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) batted home a rebound to close the scoring.
Cash stopped all nine shots he faced in 40:18 of action. Jen Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) made two saves on three shots.
The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team will play its next preliminary-round game tomorrow (March 9) when it squares off against South Korea at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Notes: Brody Roybal and Declan Farmer became the first- and second-youngest Americans to score a goal at the Paralympic Games. Roybal is 15 years old and Farmer is 16 years old ... Goaltender Steve Cash has yet to allow a Paralympic goal against in his career. His shutout streak spans three Paralympic Games and 256:20 of game action.
March 27, 2017 | When USA Hockey implemented its American Development Model in 2009, one element of the nationwide age-appropriate training blueprint sparked more debate than any other: cross-ice hockey for 8U players. In the years since, an abundance of evidence, both data-driven and anecdotal, has proven the developmental advantages of cross-ice hockey.
This week, Hockey Canada announced that it too will introduce its players to the game through cross-ice play beginning in 2017-18.
“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”
The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.
Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.
“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.
“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.
“This is about the pure enjoyment of the game, and your first connection with it has to be something that’s pure fun, on a surface of play that is conducive to much more participation and joy.”