The U.S. National Sled Team scored a victory in the semifinals of the World Sledge Hockey Challenge to advance to what is almost sure to be a rematch of the heated United States vs. Canada rivalry. Team USA toppled Norway for the second time this tournament, with seven different players registering points and getting 40 shots on net.
“I was very pleased today,” said head coach Jeff Sauer. “Certainly offensively we were able to put the puck on the net. Their goaltender did an excellent job. I thought we were certainly very strong in net. His glove is very, very good and he had a great game. I was pleased with the win. Now we’re back playing for the gold medal and that’s what it’s all about.”
In a game that saw just two penalties, the U.S. took advantage of their youth and superior speed in a constantly flowing game. Provided the opportunity to move the puck up and down the ice, Team USA aggressively cycled the puck and creating a surplus of offensive opportunities.
“Five on five we can play with anybody and we can put pressure on,” said Sauer. “I was pleased with the way we rallied back [from the loss yesterday] and came hard and strong and kept the offensive pressure on.”
McCoy echoed his coaches sentiment, crediting an increased attention to scoring chances for his two-goal performance.
“We’re always taking about looking for the open guy and getting the wingers to crash the nets on the shots,” the winger said. “Anytime you have an open shot, just take that extra second to look for an opportunity and get the best shot you can.”
While the U.S. must wait for the outcome of the undefeated Canada versus the winless Japan, the team has begun to prepare for Saturday’s championship game expecting to see their neighbors to the north.
“It’s obviously going to be a tough game if it’s against Canada,” said Dan McCoy (Cheswick, Pa.), who scored two goals and was named player of the game for the U.S. “It’s always a fun game to play them. We just have to play like we did today. Play as a team, get our power play and penalty kill working well and just go out there and play as hard as we can.”
During their off day tomorrow, Sauer plans to focus on special team opportunities to be sure to capitalize on the greatest offensive chances his team will have, regardless of the opponent.
“We have had six or seven practices now that I’ve tried to work on situations on the power play where we move the puck,” the coach said. “I have yet to see that happen [this tournament]. So our practice tomorrow will be working on the power play.”
Tag(s): World Sled Challenge