Team USA para-hockey give Italy the boot in 10-1 victory at Paralympic Winter Games
The sky outside Gangneung Hockey Centre was grey and bleak. The winds were strong. The rain was starting to come down in buckets. It was quite ugly. However, as bad as things were outside, inside for Team Italy, it was way worse.
They had to meet up with a U.S. Sled Hockey Team that has been averaging more than nine goals per game (9.333333 to be exact), and so far, hasn’t allowed any goals to cross US lines, thanks to the play of Steve Cash and Jen Lee along with the overall speed of the Team USA defense. The storm was brewing in the arena, and the forecast called for a trip to the finals with a chance of “reign.”
The first line was altered slightly for Team USA, as Declan Farmer was moved to the second line in place of Joshua Misiewicz, who scored twice in the previous game against Korea. Team USA’s first line again featured Brody Roybal, who in three games, had scored 8 goals out of 13 shots on goal.
At 11:37, The United States’ Noah Grove put the puck in Italy’s basket, putting a 1-0 lead onto the boards. Then there was another helping from Joshua Misiewicz at 3:53 and from Josh Pauls. Then moments later (4:09) Brody Roybal entered the stat sheet with Josh Pauls and Misiewicz on the assist. It was quickly 3-0.
Josh Pauls, in the four games played at Gangneung Hockey Centre, has 7 points, all assists.
“It’s great,” said Pauls. “I’m happy to be contributing to the team, but I know that we have all of our guys contributing. Whether it’s goals assists, blocked shots; we’re just happy to have everyone contributing.”
Still in the first at 6:04, Gian Lucia Cavaliere received a penalty for “teeing,” giving the United States a power play. Moments later, the playing field was four on four with Joshua Misiewicz getting the interference call. Within two seconds of getting back to full strength, it became four on four again when Andrea Macri of Italy got caught teeing his opponent.
Team USA was on the power play once again. After both teams were at full strength, Italy went back to the confines of the box. Euseblu Antochi whose offense was elbowing. Finally, the United States made them pay at the stick of Nikko Landeros who scored unassisted with 4.3 seconds left making it 5-0 at the end of the first period
With 8:00 to go in the 2nd period, Italy seemed to like the geography of the penalty box. And that was part of the game plan for Team Italy.
“After the first goal, I told the team that we have to play stronger,” said Italian head coach Massimo da Rin through an interpreter after the game. “When you play strong and hard you are going to have more penalties. We know that the USA has a strong team, so we think that we have to play hard and start getting penalties.”
Sandra Kalegaris was the next from Team Italy sent for a short two-minute vacation in the box for boarding. America was on the power play. Team USA and Brody Roybal (10) picked up the goal with 7:08 to play assisted by Joshua Misiewicz.
Nikko Landeros (3) picked up his second of the day assisted by Tyler Carron and Declan Farmer. 7-0 USA. The score wouldn’t last as Declan Farmer added his first goal of the night and 9th overall with assists from Adam Page and Josh Pauls. 8-0 Team USA and that’s how it would end in the second period. Italy did not get a shot off in the period. After the 2nd, USA had 30 shots on goal compared to Italy’s two.
The third period picked up right where the USA left off in the second with just over 11 minutes left in the match. Kevin McKee scored his second of the Paralympics with assists from Noah Grove and Adam Page.
The score was 9-0. Then it happened. The unexpected. With 6:30 left after a power play, Italy scored a goal on Jen Lee of The United States (Steve Cash had been relieved after period one of play). The umpires didn’t even believe it. They had to ask for official review. It was Italy’s Valeria Cori from Christopher Denapoli. The score was 9-1.
“I actually thought they were quite intense, they played hard and they were frustrated, obviously.” Coach Guy Gosselin said, praising the effort of the oppositional Italian Sled Team.
The goal did not phase the US in the least, in fact, Team USA was not done scoring. Brody Roybal added one more (his second of the day) and leads all scorers in the tournament with 10 goals overall. The final score was 10-1.
“If I get a good pass in the slot, then I’m going to put it in the back of the net,” said Roybal “We’re just out here to have fun.”
The United States moves on to face Canada for a shot at the gold on Sunday at Noon. This is the first time that the teams will collide in a gold medal match in the Paralympic Games.
“It’ll be a fast and physical game, just like all the other games that we played against them this year and in past years,” said Pauls. “I mean they are a really good team … but so are we.”
Story published with permission of the Wheelchair Sports Federation. ©2018 All rights reserved.
NOTES: The U.S. outshot Italy, 33-4, went 3-for-7 on the power play and finished 1-for-8 on the penalty kill. For complete game statistics, click here Sunday’s gold-medal game will mark the first time the United States and Canada meet in the gold-medal game in a Paralympic Winter Games … With 10 goals thus far, Brody Roybal is one goal shy of tying the U.S. and Paralympic record for most goals in a single Paralympic Winter Games, which was set by Sylvester Flis in 2002 … Declan Farmer (1 goal tonight) and Brody Roybal (2 goals tonight) now share the U.S. record for most goals by a U.S. player in Paralympic history with 12 tallies in nine games each … Deloitte, Labatt USA and Toyota are proud sponsors of the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team … The 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team was announced on Jan. 1, 2018, and its full 17-player roster can be seen here … Dan Brennan (Colorado Springs, Colo.), director of sled national teams for USA Hockey, is serving as the general manager of the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team … Guy Gosselin (Grafton, Wis.), a two-time U.S. Olympian (1988, 1992) and USA Hockey’s regional manager of the American Development Model, is head coach of Team USA … USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for the U.S. Paralympic team.