Team USA Parahockey celebrates gold at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games
By Stuart Lieberman / Team USA
Team USA completed another chapter in the sled hockey history book Sunday at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, winning a record-extending fourth consecutive and fifth overall Paralympic title with a 5-0 victory over Canada.
The U.S. leaves the National Indoor Stadium as the only undefeated team at the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, having outscored its opponents 30-1. Its five goals in the final were the most by a team in a gold-medal game. The previous largest margin of victory by any team in a gold-medal game was Canada’s 3-0 win over Norway in 2006.
The dynamic duo of Declan Farmer, 24, and Brody Roybal, 23, each recorded two goals and an assist in the final, finishing the tournament with a combined 30 points. Farmer finished with a tournament-leading 18 points. During the event, he became the all-time U.S. leader for Paralympic points and assists. He already held the mark for most goals. Roybal had a tournament-leading eight goals.
“We don’t get here without having such a great group of guys to train and play with. We were made from each other,” Farmer said. “We’re not here without our coaching staff emphasizing that competitive drive to every practice, and that’s what we brought today.”
Jen Lee had 16 saves for his third shutout in his first Paralympics as the starting goaltender. He did not allow a goal in any of his four starts, turning back all 33 shots he faced.
“I’m going to soak it in and then go to Disney World,” Lee said of how he was going to celebrate.
The turning point in the game came late in the first period — with the U.S. trying to kill off a penalty.
Farmer completed a solo rush with a slick left-handed swipe with 5 minutes, 52 seconds left in the opening period for a shorthanded goal. Still down a man, Roybal knocked down an ill-fated pass by Canada goaltender Dominic Larocque and scored into an empty net 25 seconds after Farmer’s goal for a 2-0 lead.
Roybal struck again less than three minutes into the second period, assisted by Joseph Woodke.
“This is the top of the list as far as moments go,” Roybal said. “I’m honored to be a part of this team, as it’s the best team I’ve ever been on. I love every single guy that’s in that locker room and we’re a family through and through.”
Team captain and four-time Paralympian Josh Pauls scored his second goal of the tournament, on a helper from Farmer right in front of the crease, midway through the period to put the Americans up 4-0. Farmer struck again with 9:03 left in the third period to add an insurance goal.
“It’s really hard to put it into words,” Pauls said. “To battle back like we did, fight through those penalties, to score two shorthanded goals in the first period, this team showed that we can battle back through adversity whether it’s in or out of games. This team is just so mentally resilient and it’s such an honor to be part of this group.”
The U.S. now holds five of the eight Paralympic golds in the sport dating back to when it was first added to the Games program in 1994. No other country has won more than one gold.
For Pauls, it marked his fourth Paralympic gold, the most of any sled hockey player in history, while it was the first Paralympic medal of any color for the six U.S. rookies: David Eustace, Malik Jones, Griffin LaMarre, Evan Nichols, Woodke and Kyle Zych.
Visit www.TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Paralympic-Games to view the competition schedule results.