LEDUC, Alberta – Declan Farmer (Tampa, Fla.) scored with 1:45 left in the third to break a 2-2 tie and help the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team defeat Russia, 3-2, here today in the first game of the 2015 World Sled Hockey Challenge.
The game was a rematch of the gold-medal game at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, which the U.S. won, 1-0.
“It was an exciting first game, not just for the tournament, but for our season in general,” said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the 2015 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. “Our newcomers learned a lot today against a strong Russian team. We’re glad to get the win and ready to improve next game.”
Team USA struck first at 10:26 in the opening period. While on the power play, Brody Roybal (Northlake, Ill.) collected a pass from Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) and fired a shot by Russian goaltender Vladimir Kamanstev. Goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), who earned the win with 18 saves, was also credited with an assist on the play.
In the second stanza, Team USA applied pressure quickly when a two-on-one between Farmer and Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.J.) forced Kamanstev to make a sprawling save. The United States extended its lead at 7:05 in the second when Farmer’s pass found Kevin McKee (Chicago, Ill.) alone in the slot and he fired a shot into the bottom right corner. Evgeny Petrov’s wrister with 3:39 left in the period made it a one-goal game.
Both teams traded chances to start the third frame. Russia scored the tying goal with 4:07 to play when Vasily Varlakov walked in alone seconds after being released from the penalty box. Farmer and McKee, who connected for a goal in the second period, did so again in the final two minutes of play. McKee’s pass sent Farmer down the middle, allowing him to tuck the puck passed Kamansteve for the game-winning goal.
Team USA is back in preliminary round action tomorrow (Feb. 2) against Korea. Puck drop is 2:00 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen live on FastHockey.com.
NOTES: Brody Roybal was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Each team was credited with 20 shots on goal in the game. … The U.S. penalty kill was two-for-two, while its power play was one-for-four … For full game statistics, click here … For complete Team USA coverage, click here … Follow @USAHockeyScores for in-game updates. Join the World Sled Hockey Challenge conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WSHC.