PyeongChang 2018: USA open Paralympic play in champion style

Brody Roybal’s hat-trick leads title holders to comprehensive victory over Japan 11 Mar 2018
a group of Para ice hockey players celebrating a goal

Brody Roybal scored a hat-trick as the USA put 10 past Japan

ⒸGetty Images
By Stuart Lieberman | For the IPC

The USA flexed its muscles as the defending Paralympic champions on Sunday (11 March) by opening up its PyeongChang 2018 campaign with a dominant 10-0 victory over Japan at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

Hard-hitting forward Brody Roybal, just 19 years old and in his second Paralympic appearance, anchored the American scoring surge with a hat-trick. He was one of eight different players on the team to score.

“It was an awesome game and the energy was great as the stands were almost full,” Roybal said. “I had a ton of fun playing that game. We were passing the puck around nicely as a team, and it was great that some of the new guys were also getting goals to start off these Paralympics.”

Two-time Paralympian Kevin McKee struck first for the Americans just 1:01 into the opening frame, recording his first career Paralympic goal off a helper from assistant captain Nikko Landeros. A little over four minutes later, Roybal doubled the US lead, burying a wicked-wrist shot from the right circle. Despite some impressive saves by Japan’s Vancouver 2010 silver medallist Shinobu Fukushima, the US tallied a third in the period with less than three minutes to go when 18-year-old Noah Grove, who lost his leg to cancer at age five, ripped a shot to the top shelf on his Paralympic debut.

Within a four-minute span in the second period, Landeros found the net on a power play, Declan Farmer scored unassisted, and then US military veterans Luke McDermott and Rico Roman both added goals. Roybal finished off the frame with two goals in 47 seconds to complete his hat trick.

In the third period, 19-year-old rising star Jack Wallace put up the final goal in his Paralympic debut.

Jen Lee recorded the shutout for the US, only having to save the puck twice. Fukushima racked up 12 saves for Japan before his teammate replaced him and notched an additional two saves.

The USA now has two points in preliminary round play in Group A and will playing the Czech Republic next. Japan has lost both of its games thus far and will have a day off before also facing the Czech Republic.

Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.