USA golden, Norway seal bronze at Sledge Hockey Challenge

World and Paralympic champions the USA claim third consecutive title against Canada. 11 Dec 2016
A Para ice hockey team celebrate their victory

The USA claimed their third consecutive World Sledge Hockey Challenge title in Charlottetown, Canada.

ⒸMatthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images
By By USA Hockey and Hockey Canada

“The consistency we’ve been able to have as of late is a testament to their hard work off the ice. It’s an absolutely pleasure to coach this group of guys.”

The USA netted five goals in the second period to defeat hosts Canada, 5-2, in the Championship game at the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown on Saturday (10 December).

The victory gives Team USA (4-1-0-0; W-OTW-OTL-L) an unprecedented third-straight World Sled Hockey Challenge title after claiming titles at the event on Canadian soil this past January in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and the 2015 tournament in Leduc, Alberta. The US, which also won the World Sled Hockey Challenge in 2009 and 2012, has now claimed six straight major international titles, a streak that began at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

“This week was about 17 players coming together as a team,” said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the US team. “The consistency we’ve been able to have as of late is a testament to their hard work off the ice. It’s an absolutely pleasure to coach this group of guys.”

Both teams traded chances throughout the opening period, but Canada entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal from Liam Hickey 6:58 into the period. Goaltender Steve Cash, named player of the game for the second consecutive World Sled Hockey Challenge Championship game, made the initial save before Hickey tapped in the rebound.

Team USA took control of the game in the middle frame, erupting for five goals and outshooting Canada, 10-2.

After Paul Schaus gave the US the lead, Brody Roybal extended it to 3-1 less than two minutes later when he skated down the left side and tucked the puck under the crossbar. The goal, assisted by Declan Farmer and Tyler Carron, capped a three-goal span in the first 3:02 of the stanza.

Canada cut Team USA’s lead to one when Brad Bowden scored with 3:20 remaining in the period, but the US regained a two-goal lead just 39 seconds later on the powerplay off a breakaway goal from Roybal.

Team USA made it 5-2 with 38 seconds left in the frame when Farmer netted his eighth marker of the tournament, which broke a record shared by himself and Nikko Landeros for the most goals scored by a US player in a single World Sled Hockey Challenge. In addition, Farmer’s 17 points (8-9) also saw him set a new record for most points by a US player in a single World Sled Hockey Challenge while finishing as the tournament-leading scorer for the third straight World Sled Hockey Challenge.

Cash finished with 14 saves, including seven in the final frame, to backstop Team USA to a 5-2 victory.

South Korea v Norway, 1-2

Magnus Bogle and Morten Vaernes scored less than three minutes apart in the second period to lead Norway to a 2-1 win over South Korea in the bronze medal game.

The medal is Norway’s fifth at the event overall, and first since 2012, its last time competing at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.

It was actually South Korea jumping out to an early lead, scoring only 18 seconds after the opening puck drop. Ju-Seung Lee fed Seung-Hwan Jung just inside the top of the left circle. Jung fired high short side. That goal marked the first time South Korea lead in the entire tournament.

South Korea nearly made it 2-0 five minutes later, when Woo-Chul Park wired a shot that beat Hamar, but not the post.

Min-Su Han almost doubled their lead early in the second on the power play, but once again the post saved the Norwegians a goal.

Two goals in just under three minutes late in the second period then gave Norway control of the game.

After Norway controlled the puck off an offensive zone face-off, Bogle shot high and tied the game at 1-1.

Hamar kept it that way by stoning Byeong-Soek Cho on a one-timer down low. Moments later, at the other end of the ice, Vaernes finished off a centering pass from Bogle to give Norway the lead.

Norway appeared to take a two-goal lead midway through the third period, but had a goal waved off because the puck was deflected in with a high stick.

A holding call on Vaernes with seven minutes to go in regulation could have proved costly. Jong-Kyung Lee was awarded a penalty shot, but was denied by Hamar to preserve the lead.

Jae-Woong Lee took the loss in goal for South Korea.

More information can be found at Hockey Canada's website.