In the words of U.S. National Sled Team head coach Jeff Sauer, “now the tournament starts for us.”
Coming off an 8-0 rout of Japan last night that saw 10 different Team USA members record a point, the U.S. squad is preparing to face a tough Canada team that is sure to be the biggest test yet for a youthful U.S. roster at the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
“We had to win those first two games,” Sauer said of the U.S. victories over Norway and Japan. “Because now we play the big guys. We play our archrivals Canada on Wednesday night.”
Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.Y.), is also aware of the importance of facing the Canadian team on their home ice.
“It was a good effort I thought, for the whole team. It was nice to come out and play a good game, the full 45 minutes,” he said. “It’s all leading up to the game against Canada and we just want to improve every game, every shift.
The U.S. will take full advantage of a day off after two games in as many days, looking to recover for the clash with rival Canada tomorrow (Dec. 5), at 9 p.m. EST, here at the WinSport Canada Ice Complex in Calgary, Alberta. Both teams remain undefeated in the tournament and are set to face off in what could be a preview of the championship game on Saturday (Dec. 8).
Pauls, who netted two goals last night and was named the player of the game for the United States, noted the significance of a full-team effort in preparation for the matchup with Canada.
“It was huge [to have so many players contribute] because Canada has a lot of depth too, and we have 17 guys that are capable of playing with anybody in the world,” Pauls said. “It was important, especially for the new guys, to get the experience internationally, and hopefully we can take it to them.”
Sauer agreed, noting that the team was built for success from top to bottom.
“I think it says a lot about how we’ve tried to put the guys together,” the former Colorado College and Wisconsin coach said. “We’ve got pretty good balance through all three lines, which is very, very important. We know we can score offensively from the point; we’ve got guys back there that are very mobile. But the key for us is to get the forwards moving the puck and taking quicker shots.”
Despite the high-pressure game looming head tomorrow night, Team USA remains confident in their ability.
“We just have to build on what we do. The whole key to our team is to move the puck and use our speed and when we do that we’re a pretty good hockey team,” Sauer said. “They [Canada] have four or five guys that are very dangerous and I’ll prepare a game plan for when those guys are on the ice. The bottom line is that if we play our game, use our speed and quickness and get some good opportunities, we’ll be ok.”
Pauls echoed his coach's sentiment.
“We just have to use our speed,” the right-winger said. “We’re a fast team, we’re young team. We have to not worry about making mistakes because that’s where we get in trouble. If we can fly down the ice, dump the puck in, work on our forecheck and play like we can, we’ll be fine.”
Most of all though, defenseman Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) noted, it’s about relaxing, being confident and having fun while they’re out on the ice.
“We always love coming out here. It’s a beautiful arena and we have a beautiful locker room and it’s a blast playing hockey up in Canada,” he said. “We’re having a blast … and whenever we play Canada it adds to it. We’re excited for tomorrow.”
March 27, 2017 | When USA Hockey implemented its American Development Model in 2009, one element of the nationwide age-appropriate training blueprint sparked more debate than any other: cross-ice hockey for 8U players. In the years since, an abundance of evidence, both data-driven and anecdotal, has proven the developmental advantages of cross-ice hockey.
This week, Hockey Canada announced that it too will introduce its players to the game through cross-ice play beginning in 2017-18.
“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”
The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.
Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.
“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.
“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.
“This is about the pure enjoyment of the game, and your first connection with it has to be something that’s pure fun, on a surface of play that is conducive to much more participation and joy.”
Tag(s): World Sled Challenge