SOCHI, Russia -- The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team landed in Sochi early Sunday afternoon (March 2). After dropping off its bags at the Coastal Village and a quick meal at the cafeteria, it was off to Shayba Arena for the squad's first practice in three days.
The arena has received a slight update in the two weeks since the Olympics ended. The hallway floors are lined with sheets of hard plastic and the team benches have been frozen, allowing players to get in their sleds by the locker room and cruise right onto the ice in a matter of seconds.
It took less than 24 hours for the rivalry against Canada to be brough up by media. Head Coach Jeff Sauer discussed how the U.S. Paralympic Team is preparing for a potential showdown with Canada in the semifinals or medal round. Canada is the first seed in Group A, while USA has top billing in Group B.
"We watched both (men's and women's Olympic) games against Canada on TV and the guys have a commitment that they do not want to be the third team," Sauer told the Paralympic News Service. "The guys in our room know they are representing a pretty heavy thing here and have a chance to win a gold medal."
Team USA has four more days of practice before its opener vs. Italy on Saturday (March 8) at 7:30 a.m. ET. The game will be streamed live at TeamUSA.org.