COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Hockey announced today the 17-member roster for the 2014-15 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. The squad was selected following a two-day tryout, July 12-13, that included 52 players in Williamsville, New York. The group includes 11 returnees from the gold-medal winning 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.
Goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) is back for his 10th season with Team USA. He backstopped the U.S. to gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
On defense, Team USA welcomes back Tyler Carron (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.). Additionally, Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) moves to the blue line after spending time as a forward in recent seasons. Both Landeros and Pauls are two-time Paralympic gold medalists.
Seven forwards return from the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team, including Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.), who was voted 2014 Best Male Paralympian by the International Paralympic Committee. He is joined by Dan McCoy (Cheswick, Pa.), Kevin McKee (Davenport, Iowa), two-time Paralympic gold medalist Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.), Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.), Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.).
The newcomers to the 2014-15 roster are goaltender Kyle Huckaby (Port Author, Texas); defensemen Sam Mumper (Dublin, Ohio) and Billy Hanning (Festus, Mo.); and forwards Chris Douglas (Saint Cloud, Fla.), Luke McDermott (Fort Worth, Texas) and Josh Misiewicz (La Grange, Ill.). Huckaby, Mumper, Hanning, Douglas and Misiewicz were members of the 2013-14 U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team.
Head coach Jeff Sauer (Madison, Wis.) begins his fourth season at the helm for the U.S. National Sled Team.
The roster for the 2014-15 U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team was determined today as well. The squad trains regularly with the U.S. National Team.
Notes: The 2015 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship will be hosted by USA Hockey at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, N.Y. The tournament will run April 24-May 2. The rest of Team USA's schedule will be released at a later date … Dan Brennan (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of sled and inline national teams for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the 2014-15 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. Additional staff members include team physician Mike Uihlein (Grafton, Wis.), athletic trainer Mike Cortese (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and equipment manager Joel Isaacson (Houghton, Mich.) … Mike MacMillan (Buffalo, Minn.), USA Hockey's national coach-in-chief, is the head coach of the U.S. National Developmental Sled Team. Former U.S. Paralympic Team members Kip St. Germaine (East Falmouth, Mass.) and Mike Blabac (Hamburg, N.Y.) are serving as associate head coach and assistant coach, respectively. Jeremy Kennedy (Colorado Springs, Colo.), USA Hockey manager of membership and disabled hockey, is the general manager. Rett Talbot (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Bill Sandberg (Parker, Colo.) are serving as physiotherapist and equipment manager for the U.S. National Developmental Team.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.