Call him “Spudsy” or call him a prodigy. Whatever the case, Pauls has been a staple on the blue line for the USA since 2008, and he captained his team to gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
It was the third straight Paralympic champion team Pauls had been a part of.
Not too many people can say at the age of 17 that they won a Paralympic title at Vancouver 2010; but Pauls can. He was the youngest member on the team, and four years later, his hunger to win helped the USA to Paralympic gold at Sochi 2014.
Pauls racked up eight points for the USA across the 2017 World Championships, only to see his side lose out to fierce rivals Canada in the final.
Born without tibia bones in both legs, Pauls had both amputated at just 10 months old. Just barely breaking into high school, Pauls was named a member of the USA’s hockey team and has flourished ever since.
At the 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool, the US lost out again to Canada, but for Pauls personally the tournament was a success. He scored four goals and added two assists in four games.
In the 2014-15 season, Pauls was named Best Defenceman of the World Championships after holding off champions Canada to carry the US to a 3-0 victory.
In 2015-16, he scored four times and racked-up 10 assists.
Pauls is also one of a kind. A very superstitious athlete, he can often be seen looking towards a Mr. Potatohead figure before each game. If the US are victorious, a lot of Pauls rituals, such as wearing the same undershirt and throwing a tennis ball with teammate Greg Shaw, stay the same.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
He was named Best Defenceman at the 2015 World Championships A-Pool and the 2016 Pan Pacific Championships, which both took place in Buffalo, NY, United States of America. (usahockey.com, 28 Oct 2016, 24 Jun 2015)
In 2021 he captained the US team to gold at the 2021 World Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and got married to his partner Katie in the same week. "It was a pretty wild week going from a gold-medal game win one Saturday to getting married the next. 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." (paralympic.org, 07 Oct 2021)
He started as a goalie and defenceman during his early years in Para ice hockey. He became a forward when he first played for the US national team, including at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, and again in 2014. He switched back to defence in 2015. “I learned to play forward by playing the NHL video games to be honest, because they had the little blue arrow that told me where to go and I realised that's why my defencemen are always yelling at me to get on the wall. I was able to make the transition back and defence is something I really enjoy. I just have a better feel for the game. I can read plays, I can jump into the offence when I see the opportunity but also know I can be responsible defensively. For me, I tend to be an offensive driven player but my time as a third-line forward [in 2010] has really taught me I can contribute if I'm not scoring and that's something I really take pride in.” (stltoday.com, 01 Mar 2022)
In 2020 he completed a master's degree in business administration at the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University in the United States of America. (LinkedIn profile, 01 Jan 2021)
In 2019 he released his autobiography titled 'Lessons Learned: My Journey to the Podium'. He was named an ambassador for the NHL's 'Hockey is for Everyone' campaign in February 2018. "I just want to leave the game a little bit better than it was before I came. It's a really exciting initiative to be a part of because hockey's such a great game, and anytime you can push inclusion, whether it's with disability, gender identity or anything like that, it's definitely exciting to be able to do that." (teamusa.usahockey.com, 15 Feb 2018; friesenpress.com, 01 Jan 2019)
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