Steve Cash

The final statistics for Team USA in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics was 19-0.  Team USA scored a total of 19 goals while their competition was not able to get one puck past goalie Steve Cash.  Not one.  And while you may think that the competition was not on their game, you could not be more wrong.  Cash faced challengers with power play opportunities, break-aways and even a penalty shop from Team Japan during the Gold Medal game.  But he did not let one goal get past him.  But if you ask Steve Cash how he was able to accomplish something that no other Paralympian has ever been able to do, he will modestly tell you that it was a team effort.  He was just doing his job.

Cash, who was 5-0-0-0 in the tournament, helped the U.S. become the first sled hockey team in Paralympic history to win its second gold medal. He was named the tournament’s top goaltender.
 
In 210 minutes of action, Cash turned aside all 33 shots he faced. He played in all but one period of the Paralympics and helped the U.S. become the first team to not allow a goal in a single Paralympic sled hockey tournament.
 
In Team USA’s 2-0 gold-medal game victory over Japan on March 20, Cash made five saves, including denying a second-period penalty shot.

Cash also helped lead the 2009-10 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team to its most successful year in history, as Team USA won both the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I., last November and the Japan Para Ice Sledge Hockey Championships in Nagano City, Japan, in January. For the season, Cash posted a 13-3-1-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record with 11 shutouts, a 0.80 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

Steve Cash was born on May 9th, 1989.  He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right knee area in October of 1992 and had his right leg amputated at the age of three years old.  He was fitted with a prosthetic and learned to walk with it at the age of four, and has never looked back.

Cash began playing roller hockey in St Louis as a youth.  When sled coach Mike Dowling learned of his prosthetic he asked him to try his hand at the sport.  He was 15 years old the first time he got into a sled. He played in his first sled hockey tournament in January of 2005 and was asked to tryout for USA Hockey that spring.  And it has been all gold from there.

Steve began as the back up goalie with Team USA when they competed in Torino, Italy in the 2006 Paralympic games.  He became the #1 guy for the team that following year.  Since taking his position between the pipes he has lead the team to its first ever Gold medal in the World Championships this spring in the Czech Republic.  But he, along with his team, has always had their eye on the prize….the Gold Medal in Vancouver.

So for two weeks in March, Cash showed up at every game ready to make that dream come true.  When you watch Steve in net he makes it all seem so easy, so effortless.  But for anyone who has ever gotten into a sled, you know that he is the best at what he does.  There is no other sled goalie on this earth that can do what Cash does.  And his representation and class transcends to how he is as a person off the ice as well.  Known as a practical joker, he is liked and respected by everyone he meets.  And he continues to give back to those who are just beginning their sled hockey career, teaching and supporting kids at the USA Sled Hockey Development Camp. Given all the medals and accolades he has received during the past 2 years, he is the most down to earth and humble person.  He will often times appear surprised by all the attention that he has received for his accomplishments.  But that is who he is.  He is grateful to be playing the sport that he has grown up loving all his life.  And while he may not be wearing a St Louis Blues jersey, he has accomplished more and represented disabled hockey to a level that no one has ever seen before.

So when you think of a person worthy of the 2010 Disabled Athlete of the Year, we can think of no one else who has demonstrated what it means to be a role model to everyone who participates in this sport.  Steve Cash is a class all his own.