TORONTO – Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) scored twice and Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) recorded three points to help the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeat Russia, 4-1, in the semifinals of the 2013 World Sledge Hockey Challenge here today.
“I was pleased with our game, and we played better than we did yesterday against Canada,” said head coach Jeff Sauer. “I thought we had a much better start today than we did against Canada, but the bottom line is Russia is a good team that plays very smart hockey. I was pleased with how we adjusted to that style of play, scored some goals and got the victory.”
After a scoreless first period in which the United States held a 6-2 advantage in shots on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net, Pauls wasted little time changing that trend in the middle frame.
Just 19 seconds into the second stanza, Farmer knocked a puck to Pauls in the neutral zone, sending him in on a breakaway. Pauls deked, moved to his right and fired a shot off the crossbar and in to give Team USA a 1-0 lead.
Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) doubled the U.S. lead when he got a stick on a rebound in the crease at 7:33 of the second. After a Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) attempt was stopped, Schaus won a race to the loose puck in the crease and pushed it past Russian goaltender Mikhail Ivanov.
Then, just under four minutes later, Pauls and Farmer connected again to boost the Team USA lead to 3-0. Farmer worked the play behind the Russia net and left a drop pass for Pauls at the side of the goal. Pauls got to the edge of the crease and slipped the puck in before Ivanov could get back to his post.
Farmer added an insurance marker – a power-play tally 5:33 into the final period – with help from Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) to close the Team USA scoring.
United States goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) started the game in net, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Jen Yung Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) relieved Cash with 5:14 remaining in regulation and made two saves.
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team will next play Saturday night against either Canada or Korea in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge championship game. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
|Dec. 1||Russia||W, 2-1|
|Dec. 2||Korea||W, 5-0|
|Dec. 4||Canada||L, 1-4|