The U.S. National Sled Team will take to the ice in the championship game of the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge tomorrow (Dec. 8) against fierce rival Canada. Having lost to the Canadian squad once this tournament, the U.S. team knows they need to turn the intensity up a notch to come away with a victory.
“I’d like to see us play with the grit that Canada does,” said U.S. National Sled Team head coach Jeff Sauer after running his team through a 90-minute practice. “Each time one of those guys pulls that maple leaf on their chest, they’re ready to go. We need to come out with that same aggressive attitude tomorrow.”
While the United States has physically dominated each of game they have won this tournament, the matchup with Canada proved to be much more of a test to the young and internationally inexperienced Team USA. Despite their youth, forward Alexi Salamone said they enjoy playing physical and were not intimidated by Canada’s ferocity.
“I think we like playing the hard-nosed game,” the Buffalo, N.Y. native said. “That said, there’s a time and a place for it. We just need to stay focused and play our game and use our speed to our advantage.”
Captain Taylor Chace agreed with Salamone, nothing his team’s speed is the real advantage they hold over opponents.
“We’re obviously a young, fast team and we need to recognize that,” he said. “If we get caught up trying to be too physical at the wrong time, we’ll pay for it and hockey is a game of mistakes. We need to capitalize on and play to our strengths.”
Despite bracing for impact from the collision with Canada tomorrow night, the U.S. remains steady in its pre-game routine and won’t deviate from the status quo. Consistency is key to proper preparation.
“Of course the game will be more intense against Canada,” said Salamone. “There are main competition and we battle every time we play them. We just need to keep things simple and do what we’ve always done and we’ll be ok. It comes down to team chemistry and who wants it more.”
Chace said that his team has been preparing for this game all tournament, making sure to take care of the things they needed to be successful, both on and off the ice.
“We just need to treat it like any other game and be ready,” the New Hampshire product said. “We’re going to rest up, drink as much water as we can, get some food in us and go to sleep. It’s as simple as that. We’ll be ready.”
Tag(s): World Sledge Challenge