Just two teams left to look at in our rundown of the eight contenders at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The spotlight now falls on the runners-up from the last edition of the Worlds; Paralympic powerhouses USA.
Entering these World Championships, USA are riding one of the most dominant streaks in any sport in the history of the Paralympic Movement. Last year, they won a record-extending third consecutive and fourth overall Paralympic title, and they have won three of the last five World Championship titles. The two times they did not win, they finished second to Canada.
The USA has a new head coach this year in David Hoff, who served as an assistant coach the last three seasons.
World Ranking: 2nd
World Championships History:
2017: 2nd place
2015: 1st place
2013: 2nd place
2012: 1st place
2009: 1st place
2008: 3rd place
2004: 2nd place
2000: 6th place
1996: 5th place
One to Watch: Princeton University student Declan Farmer has become a household name in the Paralympic Movement. He played the role of hero twice at the last Winter Games, scoring with 37 seconds left in regulation of the gold-medal game against Canada to force overtime. He then sliced the puck between two defenders in overtime to give USA the win. He finished the Games with 11 goals — tied for the most by one player at a single Winter Paralympics. Since then, the ESPY Award winner has had another year to practice.
Don’t Count Out: US war hero Josh Sweeney retired from the national team after his heroics at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics, where he scored the title-winning goal. He rejoined the national team this year for the first time since 2016 and has three assists in five games thus far, although he is still looking for his first goal.
Matchup to Watch: This is a no-brainer. Paralympic champions USA will face defending world champions Canada in their first tournament game on Saturday 27 April. The last three World Championship title games have featured these two teams. So far this season, the two squads have faced each other five times, with the USA holding a 4-1 advantage.
Worth Mentioning: The USA captured their first world title in Ostrava back in 2009. Since then they have claimed gold in 2012 and 2015.