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U.S. National Sled Hockey Team Falls Short Against Canada, 3-1

12/07/2013, 11:00pm EST
By Dan Hickling, Special to USA Hockey

TORONTO – No gold, this time. But not much hand wringing, either.

Bent on successfully defending their World Sledge Hockey Challenge title won a year ago, Team USA had to settle for silver after falling to Team Canada, 3-1, in the WSHC championship game staged at The MasterCard Centre Saturday night.

“While we would have liked to get the 'W'”, said Team USA goaltender Steve Cash, “and get the Gold Medal, “we're just going to take things in stride. Sochi is the ultimate goal.”

The World Challenge was the team's first live competition since selection camp was held in July.

The result, Cash said, should be through the prism of a bigger picture, namely the 2014 Paralympics.

“We're not going to look too far and think this is a precursor to how things are going to look in Sochi,” said Cash. “We've got what it takes in the locker room, and I have the utmost confidence in all 17 of these guys. When the time comes, we'll be able to step it up and execute.”

Team USA entered the game missing two offensive stalwarts – forwards Rico Roman and Josh Sweeney – both of whom were attending their wives college graduations.

That firepower was missed as the US fell behind – falling behind 3-0 in the first period – and never fully recovered.

“We were that far away from making good plays,” said USA coach Jeff Sauer. “We were missing the puck. Not making shots when we had to. A little bit slow on the release of the puck to the net. But it all comes with confidence.

Canada grabbed the lead on Adam Dixon's goal at 9:03, then surged to a three goal lead on goals 33 seconds apart by Billy Bridges and Greg Westlake.

Dixon's goal came on a 40-foot right hand shot that hit off a defenseman found space under the cross bar.

“It was a point shot that was going to the back door,” said Cash. “Unfortunately it was tipped. I was going to make the save and it went underneath my arm pit. That's how it goes sometimes.”

Bridges' tally came from just off the right circle while Westlake, Canada's team captain, connected off a rush down left wing.

Team USA mustered just a half dozen shots in that period, and just one dangerous scoring chance, that in the final minute of the period from Josh Pauls on a centering pass from Nikko Landeros. Pauls, however, was thwarted by Canadian goalie Corbin Watson.

“We're not used to playing from behind,” said Sauer. “But the big thing is that there are not a lot of goals scored, either way. When you get down by two or three goals, it's tough to get back in it.”

Cash said there was no sense of panic felt in the dressing room during intermission.
“It was just a matter of keeping our heads up,” he said. “Knowing we were still in the game. The funny thing about hockey is that you're never really out of the game, unlesss it's 7-0 in the third period.”

The US managed to regroup in the second period, held Canada to just three shots (while recording six of their own) and crept back to within 3-1 on Pauls' unassisted tally at 5:51.

Pauls was in a tangle of players in front of the Canada goal, and was able to pop the puck in past Watson.

That, however was as good as it got.

The US was held to just one shot in the third period and was never able to mount a serious comeback.

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TIER I GIRLS - Marlborough, MA
Michael Bontatibus (Hooksett, NH)
Brea Boone (San Clemente, CA)
Jennifer Cameron (Hollywood, FL)
Kelly Cooke (Andover, MA)
Stephen Drain (Milton, MA)
Jennifer Glynn (Leominster, MA)
Michael Goodwin (Upton, MA)
Melanie Gotsdiner (Plano, TX)
Katie Guay (Mansfield, MA)
Bryan Harrington (Franklin, MA)
Samantha Hiller (Boulder, CO)
Jamie Huntley (La Jolla, CA)
Rachel Hutchinson (Brewster, MA)
Ted Kellar (Cheshire, MA)
Adam Kiel (Milford, MA)
Jessica Leclerc (Old Orchard Beach, ME)
Matthew Lowe (Hudson, MA)
Cameron Lynch (Somerville, MA)
Kyle McQuoid (Clinton, MA)
Brian Milliken (Leominster, MA)
Jarred Mitrano (Haverhill, MA)
Kristin Moore (Salt Lake City, UT)
Crystalle Parent (Londonderry, NH)
Chelsea Rapin (Shelburne, VT)
Chris Riley (Sterling, MA)
Jill Salvo (Long Beach, CA)
George Soares (Cotuit, MA)
Jackie Spresser (Aurora, CO)
Brienne Stewart (Tulalip, WA)
Melissa Szkola (Clinton Township, MI)
Bridget Waitkus (Attleboro, MA)
Joshua Wang (Cambridge, MA)
Carol Weston (Bristol, VT)
Taylor Willert (Sun Prairie, WI)
Mackenzie Williams (Rome, NY)

TIER II GIRLS - Amherst, NY
Brittney Berning (Litchfield, MN)
Kayleigh Bowers (Dallas, TX)
Tony Brovata (Sanborn, NY)
Francesca Clemente (Brooklyn, NY)
Samuel Cucinotta (Kenmore, NY)
Nicole Davis (Crystal Lake, IL)
Kevin Frankowski (Depew, NY)
Michael Fusani (Depew, NY)
Kendall Hanley (Allen, TX)
Daniel Iulianello (Webster, NY)
Katrina Kleinschmit (East Lansing, MI)
Amy Loughman (Teaneck, NJ)
Janine Martinez (Lovonia, MI)
Ceci Morris (Hoffman Estates, IL)
Peter Nigrelli (Buffalo, NY)
Andrew Nosek (Buffalo, NY)
David Panek (Buffalo, NY)
Jodi Price (Arkport, NY)
John Rivera (Farmington, NY)
William Robins (North Tonawanda, NY)
Stefanie Schmitz (Farmington, MN)
Scott Smith (Webster, NY)
Sara Strong (Grand Rapids, MI)
Randy Szukala (North Tonawanda, NY)
Alex Valvo (East Aurora, NY)
Madeleine Weeks (Philadelphia, PA)

TIER I YOUTH - Green Bay, WI
Travis Ahlberg (Birchwood, WI)
James Blankenship (Rhinelander, WI)
Scott Bokal (Manchester, MO)
Gerald Borman (Eagan, MN)
Denny Bourgoin (Lewiston, ME)
William Conybear (Madison, WI)
Nick Cristan (Hudson, WI)
Robert Dawson (Winfield, IL)
Shane Dillon (Saumico, WI)
Kyle Domin (Bozeman, MT)
Anthony Guzzo (Spokane, WA)
Jonathan Haas (Fitchburg, WI)
Andrew Hudson (Manchester, MO)
Jeff Klein (Denver, CO)
Michael Lacina (Omaha, NE)
Kyle Larson (West Liberty, IA)
Travis Larson (West Liberty, IA)
John Melancon (Lyman, ME)
Gabriel O'Lena (Soldotna, AK)
Karl Olm (Madison, WI)
Robert Pagani (Beecher, IL)
Richard Palo (Foristell, MO)
Dylan Peper (Arvada, CO)
Curt Peterson (Aldie, VA)
Daniel Rack (Glendale Heights, IL)
Brad Roethlisberger (Green Bay, WI)
Brandon Schroder (Wausau, WI)
Jayson Selbert (Cheektowaga, NY)
Adam Shadiow (Saginaw, MN)
James (Cody) Smith (Murfreesboro, TN)
Matthew Spaeth (Hillsboro, MO)
Zane Stout (Irwin, PA)
Mason Strom (Hoffman Estates, IL)
Todd Turner (Chicago, IL)
Michael Verdonck (Chicago, IL)
Alex Vigh (Grosse Ile, MI)
Nicholas West (Orland Park, IL)

TIER II 14 & UNDER - Hackensack, NJ
David Aiello (Newtown, PA)
Carl Barling (Sparta, NJ)
Robert Backl (St. Joseph, MN)
Danielle Bugge (West Windsor, NJ)
Fred Cleck (Annville, PA)
Paul Crosta (Morris Plains, NJ)
Morgen Dautrich (Nazareth, PA)
Michael Dimino (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Thomas Dugan Jr. (North Brunswick, NJ)
Jon Hayes (Atco, NJ)
Blake Hishmeh (Kinnelon, NJ)
Louis Imbriani (Anchorage, AK)
Alexios Karabetsos (Troy, MI)
Isaac Kessler (Ambler, PA)
Brian McCullough (Morton, PA)
Eric Michaels (Philadelphia, PA)
Robert Navickas (Morton, PA)
Donald Nichols (Dover, NJ)
Michael Oreskovich (West Deptford, NJ)
John Patenaude (Glenside, PA)
Ryan Pergola (Nutley, NJ)
Sean Perry (Kunkletown, PA)
Duncan Ryhorchuk (Hanover, MN)
Samuel Schildkraut (Media, PA)
John Thompson (Lancaster, PA)
Dalton Tice (Reading, PA)
Kevin Vena (Perkiomenville, PA)
Brett Wallen (Williamstown, NJ)
Eric Workman (Lakeville, MN)

TIER II 16 & UNDER - Reston, VA
Justin Baker (Alexandria, VA)
John Canoy (Fairbanks, AK)
Marcus Currie (Laurel, MD)
Armand DeForest (Phoenix, AZ)
Christopher Dietz (Washington, DC)
Colin Gates (Fairfax, VA)
Alex Germany-Wald (Washington, DC)
Logan Gruhl (North Chesterfield, VA)
Brian Jansen (Inver Grove Heights, MN)
Jason Johnson (Lakeville, MN)
Ronald Johnson (Lake Wylie, SC)
Richard Jondo (Baltimore, MD)
Richard Kuerston (Atlanta, GA)
Gary Labelle (Arlington, VA)
Jason Lortie (Coral Springs, FL)
Michael Lucas (North Royalton, OH)
Jeremy Malin (Aldie, VA)
Jason Messimore (Knoxville, TN)
Bob Nolan (Laurel, MD)
Peter Olson (Essex Junction, VT)
Thomas Parynik (Chesterfield, VA)
Josh Pergande (Reston, VA)
Matt Pettigrew (Sterling, VA)
Richard Robichaud (Lorton, VA)
Scott Sivulich (Wasilla, AK)
Derek Vandenberg (Arvada, CO)
Matthew VanHorne (Manassas, VA)
Joel Webster (Raleigh, NC)
Justin Yott (Colorado Springs, CO)

TIER II 18 & UNDER - Wayne, NJ
Chris Bluem (Kendall Park, NJ)
David Brown (Neptune, NJ)
Michael Dalton (Camden, NJ)
Timothy Foreman (Hershey, PA)
Blaine Forkell (Souderton, PA)
Michael Forys (Cottage Grove, MN)
Timothy Funk (Rye, NH)
Jeff Greenstein (Potomac, MD)
Colin Haas (Plano, TX)
Patrick Hanrahan (Hatfield, PA)
Michael Kubec (Mentor, OH)
Benedict Manderachi (Douglassville, PA)
Jason Mandroc (Downingtown, PA)
David Maxfield (Rochester, NH)
Tom McCullough (Conshohocken, PA)
Chris McPhee (Kearns, UT)
Justin Nicol (Lake Stevens, WA)
Robert Perry (Kunkletown, PA)
Steven Sailor (Sewell, NJ)
Daniel Shilkitus (Landenberg, PA)
Chris Shoppell (Fort Wayne, IN)
Gary Shpungin (Wayne, NJ)
Andrew Suhovic (Bayonne, NJ)
Jason Theodore (North Wales, PA)
Dustin Thompson (Missoula, MT)
Brandon Uzarek (Evansville, IN)
David Zulla (Roebling, NJ)
Eric Zullo (Avenel, NJ)

HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY - Omaha, NE
David Ballantyne (McHenry, IL)
Larry Clark Jr. (Pekin, IL)
Patrick Clay (Missoula, MT)
Russell Coll (Olathe, KS)
Joshua Eiden (Saint Bonafacius, MN)
Terry Farrar (Saint Charles, MO)
Brian Fisher (Aurora, IL)
Tim Frazee (Fairfax, IA)
Colin Gruenke (Northbrook, IL)
Brian Hankes (Wheaton, IL)
Jeff Hirsch (Woodstock, IL)
Benton Kooman (O'Fallon, MO)
Robert Lowth (Rolling Meadows, IL)
Josh Lupinek (Minnetonka, MN)
Nicholas Matarazzi (Saint Louis, MO)
William Murphy (Saint Charles, MO)
Arnold Pizzutelli (Overland Park, KS)
Terrance Saunders (Manhattan, KS)
Joshua Scott (Fort Wayne, IN)
Colin Snodgrass (Missoula, MT)
J.R. Stragar (Pittsburgh, PA)
William Valiant (Corvallis, OR)

SENIOR WOMEN - Marlborough, MA
Lorraine Adkisson (Estell Manor, NJ)
Leah Buysse (Waunakee, WI)
Rebecca Caron (Belmont, NH)
Cleveland Coats Jr. (Lexington, MA)
Donald Cowern Jr. (Ashland, MA)
Keisha Dunlevy (Worthington, MA)
Mary Frey (Edina, MN)
Jean Goodwin (Reading, MA)
Jamie Lalos (Billerica, MA)
Michelle Lichterman (Mount Prospect, IL)
Paul Maguire (Natick, MA)
Bryan McKay (Groton, MA)
Kristin Moran (Sartell, MN0
Ken Murphy (Melrose, MA)
Kevin Nelson (Billerica, MA)
Stephen Phaneuf (Hudson, MA)
Colleen Reddy (Salisbury, MA)
James Riley (Lancaster, MA)
Randy Silveira (Seekonk, MA)
Cory Talbott (Edgewater, MD)
James Ternullo (Billerica, MA)
Cody Tremblay (Brighton, MA)
Edward Vahey (Wellesley, MA)
Andrea Weissman (South Grafton, MA)

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