Quantcast
skip navigation
Home Players & Parents Coaches Officials Team USA Membership Safety About Help

Fresh Faces Fuel U.S. Sled Team

12/03/2012, 10:15am MST
By Brian Smith

The U.S. National Sled Team may be missing one of the major players in its tournament victories at the last three major international events in Taylor Lipsett (Plano, Texas) but the team is in no way short on talent. Boasting veterans such as captain Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) and goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), Team USA has plenty of leadership. However, four fresh faces are injecting new blood into the U.S. squad, giving the team more depth than ever before; Craig Brady (Norwood, Mass.), Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.), Billy Hanning (Festus, Mo.), and Paul Shaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) are all making their international debuts.
 
            “This team is much improved,” said Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.Y.), a three-year member of the national team. “That’s not a knock to the guys on the old team, but this team has a lot of talent, a lot of youth and a lot of speed.”
 
            As defending champions of the last three major international tournaments, including the 2009 International Paralympic Committee World Sledge Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic; the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver; and the 2012 IPC World Sledge Hockey Championship in Hamar, Norway, Team USA has only added to their talent pool for the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. The newcomers quickly became a valuable part of the team, helping the U.S. to a 3-1 win over Norway in the first game of the tournament.
 
            “We’re making them feel part of the team and comfortable, like they’ve been around for a long time and not that they are the new guys,” said Chace. “They’re obviously going to be excited, but we have some great leaders and great teammates on this team so I don’t think they should be worried about anything.”
 
            Among the rookies is 15-year-old Farmer. Although born in 1997 and in his first campaign with the national team, he has demonstrated skills and maturity beyond his years, notching his first career goal in his first career game.
 
“He’s a great player. He plays just as well as any of us,” said defenseman Joshua Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.). “He’s very dedicated; work hard on and off the ice and when he come out he does what he needs to do to win.”
 
Farmer credits guidance from coaches Jeff Sauer and Guy Gosselin, as well as team leaders, for his success on the ice at such a young age. He also mentioned that his off-ice experience and friendships have helped him improve immensely.
 
“Being 15 and playing here is awesome, to play with a bunch of older guys, everyone knows what they’re doing,” the forward said. “It’s been a great experience so far. I’ve gotten a lot of great coaching and playing and have had a lot of fun off the ice.”
 
Brady, a military veteran, has made an impact during his first tour with the senior sled team, after having played last season with the U.S. Developmental Sled Team. The Norwood, Mass. native grew up playing hockey and never imagined he would represent his country on the international stage.
 
“It’s a great experience,” said Brady. “It’s very humbling, I would say.”
 
His transition to sled hockey, however, continues to be a work in progress despite his success.
 
“It took me about six months to learn how to skate, honestly,” the burly defenseman said. “Learning how to use my hands, I’m still working on that. But last year was my first year playing professionally and this is my first time being here. It’s awesome.”
 
Brady also credited his time spent with the developmental team for his quick ascension within the sport.
“The speed of everything has helped me improve so much since last year when I was with the developmental team,” he said. “I’ve really come great lengths since then.”
 
Team USA will look to its youngsters again when it takes to the ice tonight (Dec. 3) against Japan at the WinSport Canada Ice Complex.

Related News

Most Popular Articles

Improving the Most Important Skill

02/11/2015, 10:45am MST
By Kelly Erickson

Life of an NHL Official: Part II

02/25/2015, 11:00pm MST
By USA Hockey Officiating Program

A follow-up to Ian Walsh's NHL career-path article (see Stripes - February 2015)

For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials. 

USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?

Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.  

USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season? 

Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that. 

The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.

USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?

Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.

USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official? 

Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.

USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career? 

Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.

USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?  

Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.

USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?

Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.

USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career? 

Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.

Host Sites Announced for 2016 National Championships

11/03/2014, 5:15pm MST
By USA Hockey

Titles to be contested at 10 sites nationwide

Tag(s): World Sled Challenge