The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team opens its preliminary-round schedule of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games today (March 8) vs. Italy at 7:30 a.m. ET. The game can be viewed live at TeamUSA.org (see link above). NBC Sports Network will show portions of the game at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Two-time Paralympian defenseman Nikko Landeros spoke to the media Friday about the matchup vs. Italy.
On how the defense can help goaltender Steve Cash with solid containment of Italy forward Florian Planker (ITA)... "We have a pretty solid 'D', we're not just focused on one guy. As long as we can keep him on the outside, don't let him shoot that much and present him with bad angles, Stevie will take care of the rest. We just have to put our bodies on him and not let him get open in the zone."
On whether the matchup against Italy has added importance to him because of his family's Italian heritage ... "I'm American, that's my first priority. It's cool that we're all friendly, but once we get on the ice it's a competition and we want to come out with a win in every game."
"We're staying in the same building as them, I see them in the lunch room every day. We don't talk too much, but we stay friendly. I don't want to be enemies with anyone, we respect them and I hope they respect us. It's going to be a heck of a game."