The USA’s Steve Cash, arguably one of the world’s best ice sledge hockey goaltenders, is returning to the ice with a new back-up in 2015-16 – Purple Heart Recipient Bo Reichenbach.
At this point everybody expects Cash, who recorded a perfect 5-0 record and 0.97 save percentage at the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool to help the USA claim gold, to be the money in net again in 2015-16.
But what remains a mystery between the pipes is how Reichenbach will fare when Cash needs a rest.
Reichenbach is a former US Navy Seal who had both of his legs amputated above the knee in 2012 after being injured by a makeshift bomb in Afghanistan.
With the addition of Reichenbach and the return of Rico Roman, who took last season off to be with his family, the USA now have six Purple Heart recipients on their team.
Josh Sweeney, Luke McDermott, Josh Misiewicz, Paul Schaus – all members of last season’s World Championship team – are also Purple Heart recipients.
“Sledge hockey is one of the sports that is really competitive, has a team aspect and is very physical so it fits for us military guys,” Reichenbach said. “Within the military, everyone is really competitive with each other and you’re also banded together as a team. All the military guys sort of have a look or personality to them that’s easy to pick out on the ice.”
So how has Reichenbach, who spent the last two years playing for the US developmental team, been preparing to back up one of the sport’s all-time greats?
“I’ve definitely been watching Steve Cash,” Reichenbach said. “He’s the best goalie in the world, so he’s my biggest competition. I’d like to be better than him.
“But because I’m a double amputee, for me to be successful, I have to be a lot more mobile and explosive. He can play more positional. He gets to take away a lot of that lower part of the net and I don’t have that advantage so I have to adapt.”
At home on the ice
Reichenbach has been playing hockey since he was four years old, and prior to enlisting in the Navy in 2008, he had suited up for the Thunder Bay Wolverines junior ice hockey team.
Just three months after the explosion in Afghanistan in 2012, he started ice sledge hockey through the USA Warriors team when he was recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre.
It was actually Misiewicz, also a double-amputee injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, who pushed Reichenbach to take up the sport.
“At first I was pretty apprehensive, thinking it’s not going to be like regular hockey,” Reichenbach said. “But I got on the ice and did it, and fell in love with it immediately, and I’ve been going hard at it since.”
The biggest transition between able-bodied and ice sledge hockey for Reichenbach has been learning to change his positioning between the pipes.
“When you’re sitting down, shots are going over your head or at your head – most of the guys shoot right by your ear, right at the top of your head,” he explained. “That was my biggest struggle at the beginning, re-learning the angles and having to get away from what I learned in goal my whole life.”
Reichenbach served as an alternate captain on the developmental team last season, posting a 3-1 record, 1.15 goals against average and .907 save percentage.
Earlier this year, nearly 30 surgeries since returning from Afghanistan, he travelled to Buffalo with the developmental team to watch the World Championships A-Pool, having a chance to scout his future international opponents for the first time.
Already receiving national attention
Reichenbach has already received plenty of media attention off the ice, having been featured in the TODAY show’s ‘Make Your Today Dads’ video series on NBC to celebrate Father’s Day on 15 June.
He and his father are in the process of building a home for his family in Montana. Aware of his story, the Home Depot Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation surprised the pair with tools for their new workshop and a custom-designed off-road vehicle to help with the construction.
“My goal in life at one point was to build my own house for my family, and it’s come true now,” Reichenbach said. “After I got injured, I moved back to Montana and needed a home, so that goal became a reality.”
Reichenbach’s new home dedication is expected to take place in October, the same month he joins USA’s national ice sledge hockey team for his first official training camp of the 2015-16 season.
What a month that will be.
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.