OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – USA won the 5th Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship. It’s the first time the Americans captured the gold after the event was won by Canada (twice), Sweden and Norway before.
The event is organized by the International Paralympic Committee and it allows players with a lower-body disability to play hockey on ice with a metal sled on blades and two sticks to help them move and handle the puck. The sport, created in the ‘60s, has become a popular winter sport in the Paralympic Games.
Eight teams played in the A Pool in Ostrava last week. Canada won Group A against Japan, Germany and the Czech Republic, while Norway won the other group against USA, Korea and Italy.
However, the semi-final meeting of the North American teams ended with a surprise as USA’s Adam Page scored the game-winning goal in a shootout.
The Americans faced Norway in the gold medal game in front of 2,097 spectators. The Scandinavians won the first game in the preliminary round, 2-1, but luck was on the American side in the final. After a face off in the offensive zone won by Taylor Chace, captain Andy Yohe received the pass and scored the only goal of the game 12 seconds before the end of the game to capture gold for the United States.
"It's a great feeling," said Ray Maluta, head coach for Team USA. "The players showed tremendous poise, character and determination for being so young. They really pulled together as a group and were never outworked."
Canada won the bronze-medal game against Japan. The final standings: 1. USA, 2. Norway, 3. Canada, 4. Japan, 5. Czech Republic, 6. Italy, 7. Korea, 8. Germany.
Five more teams participated in the B Pool in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Estonia captured the gold, edging Sweden 1-0 in the final. Poland got bronze, Great Britain and the Netherlands finished behind. Estonia and Sweden will play for promotion against Korea and Germany.
The event was the last preparation before the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver which will take place March 12-21 after the Olympic Winter Games.
MARTIN MERKLinks:International Paralympic CommitteeA Pool World Championship in OstravaB Pool World Championship in Eindhoven