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Sweeney Edges U.S. Sled Team Past Norway

12/02/2012, 10:00am MST
By Brian Smith

The U.S. National Sled Team opened play at the 2012 World Sledge Challenge today at the WinSport Canada Ice Complex in Calgary, Alberta with a 3-1 victory over Norway. As the defending 2011 International Paralympic Committee Sledge Hockey World Champions and having won the last three major international tournaments, Team USA looked to continue their strong play on the biggest stage.

“We came out a little rusty, being the first game of the season,” said U.S. forward Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.), who scored the game-winning goal. “By the third period I think we got what we need to do down and started to play our game.”

Led by captain Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.), the U.S. came out strong, against a solid Norwegian squad. Despite controlling much of the play in the first period with a healthy dose of offensive firepower and physical play, Team USA fell behind Norway late in the first period. While applying pressure on a penalty kill, the U.S. found itself trapped deep in its offensive zone. Capitalizing on the positioning, Norway flipped the puck high off the boards to Loyd Riem Pallader, who had a clear breakaway on goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.). Pallader made no mistake, firing the puck low and beating Cash on his glove side.

“We started a bit slow in the first period,” said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the U.S. National Sled Team. “We don’t score goals as well as we should and that’s frustrating. I thought in the first period we did a good job of controlling things, but we just didn’t score.”

Playing in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge, each period is reduced to 15 minutes from the usual 20. Sauer noted that this slight change could have a massive impact on the game.

“When you cut it down to 15 [minutes] it’s a lot different game,” Sauer said. “I double shifted a little bit to try to get some of our more experienced forwards on the ice and we were able to get back into the game. When you don’t have as much time as you normally do, it’s very important to score as quickly as you can.”

Kevin McKee (Davenport, Iowa), continued the U.S. pressure in the second period, getting multiple shots on net within the first few minutes of play. His persistency paid off at the 9:46 mark when he buried a rebound to tie the game at one goal apiece. From there, Team USA held Norway completely off the board, allowing zero shots on net in the second stanza.

“We definitely made all the right adjustments during the first intermission,” Sweeney said. “We learned from our mistakes and came out to play.”

In the final frame, Sweeney gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead after taking a pass from Rico Roman (San Antonio, Texas) and making a nifty move around Norwegian netminder Kristian Buen. Fifteen-year-old Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) added an insurance goal with one second remaining to seal the victory. Roman picked up his second assist on the final goal and earned player of the game honors for his efforts.

“He came through for us in a big way with two assists,” said Sweeney. “He’s a playmaker. That’s just what he is.”

Team USA will take to the ice again tomorrow (Dec. 3) at 9 p.m. EST against Japan. 

“We just need to build on this momentum,” said Sauer. “If we do that, we’ll be successful.”

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Three ways to beat burnout

11/28/2016, 9:45pm MST
By Dave Pond

According to NHL metrics, the average hockey shift lasts somewhere between 45 and 55 seconds. There’s inherent beauty and fluidity to line changes, as skaters come on and off the ice, looking to recharge after going full throttle for their teams.

Meanwhile, your NHL officiating peers are giving their all, too – regularly logging 4-5 miles a game. Those totals are even greater at your level, where you and your colleagues officiate multiple games a day, several times per week, on a seemingly never-ending calendar.

And, although we want to perform our best every game, everyone has both good days and bad – players and officials alike. To learn more about keeping burnout at bay, we went to the experts: longtime amateur hockey scheduler Larry Carrington and former NHL official Mark Faucette.

“There is so much more to officiating than meets the eye,” said Faucette, a 17-year NHL veteran. “It may look easy from the stands, but to maintain total control of a game along with the stress, slumps, supervisors, travel, and fitness regimen takes a very special kind of person.”

Get in shape (and stay there)
We all think we’re in “pretty good” shape, but the reality is, officials must be top athletes and in great condition – even at the youngest levels.

“Conditioning is very important—the deeper into the season, the more important it is,” Carrington said. “Burnout happens physically, mentally, and emotionally. An official who is in good condition will experience less physical burnout, and that will in turn help with the emotional and mental burnout.”

Faucette stresses following a workout routine that maxes yourself at least every other day. Neither player or official should plan to use games as a vehicle toward better physical fitness.

“Where we used to go to camp to get into shape, officials today are on summer conditioning regimens and are tested as soon as they come to camp,” he said. “Taking care of your body is a total focus for the good official.

“The players are so much stronger and faster now, so it’s imperative the officials keep the same pace.”

Find balance
No, not balance on your skates (that’s a given). Rather, make sure to keep the big picture in mind, to work a manageable schedule that includes everything that’s important to you – family, friends, and time away from the rink.

Although it makes Carrington’s job as an assignor more difficult, he said it pays off in the long run.

“I encourage officials to take at least one weekend off to get away from hockey,” he said. “I certainly don't want to lose their services for a week, but the invigoration that it usually provides makes them a much more valuable asset over the course of the season.”

That’s huge in an industry where both mental and physical fatigue are commonplace.

“Every official runs into slumps, just as players do,” Faucette said. “You spend numerous hours alone as an official, and when things are not going good, where everything is negative, it can cause you duress.

“Positive thoughts and self-evaluations speed up recovery,” he continued. “So, instead of telling yourself, ‘I wonder what bad thing will happen tonight?’ say ‘I’m ready for anything – bring it on!’”

Have fun
It’s No. 3 here, but should be No. 1 on your to-do list.

“I realize the officials are all trying hard, and mistakes are part of any sport by any participant,” said Faucette, who currently serves as supervisor of officials for USA Hockey, the NAHL director of player safety and the SPHL director of officiating. “That being said, the joy I get out of seeing a young official start out at ground level and making the big time one day is immeasurable.”

For most of you reading this, the “big time” might not be the end goal (and that’s OK). But wherever you are, there’s experience you’ve gained, as well as that to come – which both point back to why you first got involved in this great sport.

As an assignor, Carrington tries to get out of the office as much as he can and intentionally varies the schedules of his officials to help keep things fresh. He also encourages his more senior officials to lend a hand to those who aren’t as long in the tooth.

“Going to the rink and helping officials help themselves get better can be very invigorating,” he said. “Even a very good, very experienced official will often find it fun and relaxing to mentor some new official at a lower-level game where the stress levels aren’t nearly as high.”

But no matter where you officiate, Carrington emphasizes keeping one thing in mind: the love of the sport and those playing it today.

“If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Winning Never Goes Out Of Style For Hall Of Fame Coach

12/01/2016, 12:30pm MST
By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

Bill Belisle has coached for the past 42 seasons

Speaking from his heart, Coach touches the hearts of millions

12/01/2016, 12:15pm MST
By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

Tag(s): World Sled Challenge