USA Hockey announced today that Jeff Sauer (Madison, Wis.) will serve as head coach of the 2015-16 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. Last season, Sauer led Team USA to an undefeated 12-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record that culminated with a gold medal at the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in Buffalo, New York. He also served as head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team that claimed gold at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
"Jeff has been instrumental in the success of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team over the last several seasons," said Dan Brennan, director of inline and sled hockey for USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2015-16 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. "He has played an important role not only in the development of our players, but the sport as a whole, and we look forward to another season with him behind the bench."
"It is an honor to continue with this outstanding group of hockey players," said Sauer. "With our success in the past, each season brings new challenges and expectations. I look forward to our program's continued development and success."
Since taking the helm in 2011, Sauer has guided Team USA to a 41-3-1-11 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record that includes reaching the championship game of every major international competition and titles in five major international events, including the 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in Hamar, Norway; the 2012 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Calgary, Alberta; the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; the 2015 World Sled Hockey Challenge in Leduc, Alberta; and the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in Buffalo, New York.
Inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014, Sauer continues to add to his coaching legacy. This past April, he led the U.S. Deaflympic Hockey Team to a bronze medal at the 18th Winter Deaflympics in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. He was also behind Team USA’s bench at the 16th Winter Deaflympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the U.S. claimed gold.
In addition to serving as head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team at the 1995 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, Sauer's illustrious 31-year NCAA Division I college coaching career featured 655 wins (10th all-time) and two national championships, both of which came during his tenure with the University of Wisconsin (1983, 1990). Sauer led Wisconsin to three NCAA Men’s Frozen Four appearances, 12 NCAA tournament berths, six Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff titles, and two WCHA regular-season crowns in 20 seasons (1982-2002). He also spent 11 years (1971-82) as head coach of the men’s ice hockey team at his alma mater, Colorado College, where he was twice named WCHA Coach of the Year (1972, 1975).
USA Hockey also announced today its support staff for the 2015-16 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, including athletic trainer Mike Cortese (Boynton Beach, Fla.), equipment manager Joel Isaacson(Houghton, Mich.), and team physician Mike Uihlein (Grafton, Wis.). Cortese, Isaacson, and Uihlein have been staff members for the past three seasons.
The U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team also revealed its staff today for the upcoming season. Jeremy Kennedy (Colorado Springs, Colo.), manager of disabled hockey for USA Hockey, will return as general manager while Mike MacMillan (Buffalo, Minn.), USA Hockey's national coach-in-chief, will again serve as head coach. Former U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team members Kip St. Germaine(East Falmouth, Mass.) and Mike Blabac (Hamburg, N.Y.) return as associate head coach and assistant coach. Rounding out the staff is physiotherapist Rett Talbot (Delray Beach, Fla.) and equipment manager Bill Sandberg (Parker, Colo.).
Tryouts for the 2015-16 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team will take place July 12-13 at Northtown Center in Williamsville, New York.
Sixty-five players, including all 17 members of the 2015 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, are expected to try out for the national team. The players will be divided into four teams and play two scrimmages per day.
Both the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team rosters will be announced on July 17.
Preceding the tryouts will be the 2015 USA Hockey Sled Hockey Player Development Camp, which begins today at the Northtown Center and concludes on Saturday (July 11). Fifty-six male and female sled hockey players will take part in the six-day camp, which will include daily practices and games.
NOTES: Jeff Sauer (Madison, Wis.) is entering his fifth campaign as head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team ... Dan Brennan (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of inline and sled hockey for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team for the fifth consecutive year ... Tryouts for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team are open to all disabled sled hockey players 15 years of age or older ... The purpose of the 2015 USA Hockey Sled Hockey Player Development Camp is to identify, train and educate the top sled hockey athletes in the United States ... J.J. O'Connor (Mount Prospect, Ill.), chair of USA Hockey's Disabled Section, will serve as camp director. Sauer will serve as camp head coaches along with David Hoff (Bottineau, N.D.) and Gregg Marinari (Rockville, Md.), while Lee Costley (Two Harbors, Minn.) and Mike Vaccaro (Waldorf, Md.) will be camp assistant coaches ... Adding to the camp's staff will be Paralympians Mike Blabac (Hamburg, N.Y.), Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.), Dan McCoy (Cheswick, Pa.), Josh Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Andy Yohe (Davenport, Iowa).
Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”
Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future.
USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.
On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.
The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.
The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.
These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.
In order to comply with new requirements from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), USA Hockey will be implementing a national level background screening program. This program will replace all USAH Affiliate coordinated background screen programs.
Why must officials be screened?
Per USA Hockey and USOPC policy, all coaches, officials, board members, employees, volunteers, billets and anyone else who will have regular contact with, or authority over, minor athletes are required to submit a background screen before any contact with minor athletes.
Who is required to be screened?
Officials who are 18 years-old (or older) prior to June 1 of the current year.
Any official, 18 years-old (or older) without a completed valid background screen (national or USAH Affiliate coordinated) after April 1, 2019.
All national background screens are valid for two seasons, and starting on June 1, 2020 a national background screen must be completed and in good standing before receiving an officiating card and crest.
What are the timelines for launching the national background screen program?
Beginning on April 1, 2020, background screening will be conducted by our national background screen vendor, National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI), and information on background screening will be included following your registration.
As of March 22, 2020, applicants will no longer be able to submit new USA Hockey background screens through USAH Affiliate vendors, and will not be able to submit new screens through NCSI until April 1, 2020.
If you were screened after April 1, 2019 for the 2019-20 season, your screen is valid for the 2020-21 season, and you will not need to be screened under the new system until prior to the 2021-22 season. If your most recent screen is from prior to April 1, 2019, you will need to be screened under the new system, after April 1, 2020, in order to participate in the upcoming season.
All new screens submitted through the new NCSI national screening program after April 1, 2020 will be valid for two seasons. For example, a screen submitted and approved on April 15, 2020 will be valid through the end of the 2021-22 season, which is August 31, 2022.
How can members complete their required background screen?
A link to submit for screening will be included in your membership registration confirmation email and posted in the drop-down menu under the OFFICIALS tab at USAHockey.com.
Background screens through NCSI under the national program will cost $30 for all domestic screens. For international screens (members who have lived outside of the U.S. for six consecutive months in any one county during the past 7 years) the flat rate fee is $150. If that country is solely Canada, the flat rate fee is $75.
Where can members go with questions about the national background screen program?
Please refer to the USA Hockey Background Screen webpage at USAHockey.com.