Team USA’s Para ice hockey captain Josh Pauls has finally had some time to reflect on his whirlwind, yet life-changing, week this summer.
In late June, he led the USA to its second consecutive and record-extending fifth overall Para ice hockey world title in Ostrava, Czech Republic and the following weekend married the love of his life, Katie.
“It was a pretty wild week going from a gold-medal game win one Saturday to getting married the next,” Pauls said. “It was definitely the highlight week of my life for sure. It was a lot of work and planning, but I don't think I could have planned it out better.”
His wife took a lot of the wedding planning into her hands, giving Pauls the green light to make training for World Championships a priority. It was a win-win situation, that ended in a gold medal and happy marriage.
“I'd get some messages during World Championships about the final details coming together, and it was exciting to see all of it come to fruition,” Pauls said.
The newlyweds then took their honeymoon to Minnesota in August for the wedding of Pauls’ teammate, Kevin McKee, who married women’s Para ice hockey player Erica Mitchell. The two met playing Para ice hockey in 2008.
Title from Ostrava different from the others
Reflecting on a busy summer, Pauls is grateful for how much the US players came together following a tough year during the pandemic.
“To win our fifth world title is an incredible accomplishment, and we are very proud of earning it especially with the season we had leading up to it,” he said.
“I think it is different from past titles because it showed our team's commitment to training and development especially when we were apart and not able to hold camps together. The way we were able to close it out in the final game will definitely be a source of pride for us, but we also know that it will give Canada and other nations fire to come back stronger next year.”
Pauls was second on the US team with 10 points in Ostrava, having a five-game point streak that included a goal in the squad’s 5-1 win over Canada in the gold-medal game.
The USA have finished on the podium at the last nine World Championships dating back to 2004, and they will hold onto their No. 1 world ranking heading into the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games as both the reigning Paralympic and world champions.
Hoff announced as the head coach for Beijing 2022
Pauls and his crew are now gearing up for what is expected to be a busy 2021-22 season culminating with the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing next March.
“It will be nice to relax after a compressed hockey season and start preparing for Beijing 2022,” Pauls said.
Recently, USA Hockey announced that David Hoff, who has served as the head coach of the US national team for the last three seasons, will make his first appearance at the helm at the Paralympic Winter Games, which run from 4-13 March.
He had served as an assistant coach to Guy Gosselin at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games, where the US captured an unprecedented third straight Paralympic gold.