Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
2010 Vancouver Paralympics - Day Two Print E-mail
Written by Peter Quartuccio   
 

Czechmate: Team USA Overcomes a Wall in Net, Skating Past Czech Republic to Remain Unbeaten

  

            In what was a nasty, hit-happy game, Team USA attempted to go into their day off tomorrow with a perfect record of two wins and zero losses.  Their opponents, the Czech Republic, did everything in their power to put a blemish on that record.  The Czechs got a superb performance out of their goalie Michal Vapenka, whose efforts almost gave them the victory.  Alas, his brilliance was not enough, as his teammates had trouble getting off shots all night long, and once they got the puck near the net, U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cash ably turned their shots aside.  The Czechs fell to the Americans, 3-0, and Team USA, who still need to work out some kinks, are starting to look like the bona-fide gold medal threat they were initially slated to be.

 

            From the start, this looked like a different U.S. sled hockey team from yesterday.  Not even 24 hours had elapsed since their 5-0 victory against Korea, and yet today’s effort was a far more focused and consistent one.  Taylor Lipsett scored his third goal of these Paralympics halfway through the first, going coast-to-coast and putting the puck top shelf to open the game’s scoring. Later on in the period, in what became one of their very few scoring chances, the Czechs worked their way up the ice toward the U.S. zone with a series of precise passes and graceful moves, only to be greeted rudely by a clean but vicious hit by American Defenseman Nikko Landeros, who had a very strong game despite not showing up on the stat sheet.  Alexi Salamone and Jim Connelly added goals in the second and third periods, respectively, as the shot output was consistent throughout.  The Czech Republic did not seem able to recover from Landeros’ mammoth blow, for while they did not lie down for the Americans, they mustered only six shots on goal, all of which were stopped by U.S. goalie Steve Cash, who recorded his second consecutive shutout.  Indeed, the Czechs must be sick to their collective stomachs, given that they had nothing to show for the remarkable performance put forth by Vapenka.  His play between the pipes was the best I’ve ever seen in a sled hockey game, and even though he let in three and took the loss in the process, it would be nothing short of criminal if his 20 saves—nearly all of which were of the acrobatic, spectacular kind—went overlooked.  Conversely, the U.S. players deserve credit for refusing to allow the dynamic Czech to get into their heads.  They kept the pressure on him throughout the contest, adopting a kind of gatling gun approach to the game, continuously firing shots from all angles and figuring that some were bound to find the back of the net.  They did, and Team USA prevailed. After a day off tomorrow, the U.S. will face Japan on Tuesday, while the Czech Republic will play yesterday’s fallen foe, Korea.

 

            For more coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 01:36
 
2010 Vancouver Paralympics - Day One Print E-mail
Written by Peter Quartuccio   

Bad Day on White Ice for Korea, Losing Twice to Team USA

 

            The first day of Paralympic competition saw the U.S. and Korea battle against each other in two sports, wheelchair curling and sled hockey, with Team USA getting the best of the Koreans in both matchups.  First came curling, which was far from the one-sided affair the sled hockey game proved to be.  It was back and forth the entire game, with neither squad able to pull ahead by taking advantage of the other’s missed opportunities.  The most consistent player on either side was almost certainly Team USA’s vice grip James Pierce.  He was nothing short of an assassin down the stretch of the game, making throw after clutch throw.  Thanks to Pierce’s sniper accuracy, the U.S. pulled ahead 8-6 in the 7th end, and didn’t relinquish their lead despite an all-out effort by Korea in the 8th end, winning the game by a final tally of 9 to 6. 

 

 

            Team USA and Korea faced off again, this time at the UBC Thunderbird Arena for sled hockey.  Excitement and anticipation pervaded the arena, encircling it and those within like a thick fog.  The game started with a penalty, as U.S. Forward Tim Jones was sent to the box for Interference a mere seven seconds into the game.  This was a sign of things to come, as the referees ended up calling a staggering total of eleven penalties in the contest.  This, however, did not mar the action, as both teams provided big hits and, for the most part, a high level of play for the majority of the game.  American Defenseman Taylor Chace got the scoring started for the U.S., scoring a first period goal three minutes and forty-five seconds into the match.  He got help from teammates Alexi Salamone and Taylor Lipsett, both of whom scored power play goals in the second period.  Team USA, however, essentially sleepwalked through the third period, making sloppy, lackadaisical passes and committing a whopping two Too Many Players on the Ice penalties in a matter of minutes.  They nevertheless were able to close out the victory thanks to the Taylors Chace and Lipsett, who each scored their second goals of the game in the third.  Despite the aggressive style of the Americans, Korea never seemed to fold under the intense pressure put on them by Team USA, and they deserve credit for not cowering before their immensely talented opponents.  The U.S. was victorious 5-0 before an overwhelmingly pro-Korean crowd, something that is to be expected given the rivalry between Team USA and the Canadians. This is something the U.S. Olympians had to contend with last month, and it is a trend that will surely continue through the Paralympics as well.  Team USA better get used to it.

 

For more coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 01:34
 
2010 Winter Paralympics Opening Ceremony Print E-mail
Written by Peter Quartuccio   

Opening Ceremony: Root for the Home Team, but Appreciate and Cherish the Home Crowd

 

            There they sat.  Spectators draped in green, white, and shades of blue, waving their illuminating pompoms that set the BC Place aglow with a vibrant red.  As they cheered and applauded and sang, one got the sense that they could not have been prouder.  Last night’s Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver proved a thoroughly moving and memorable evening, one which celebrated Canada, Canadians, and the Paralympians in attendance who, in the words of International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, “redefine the possible.”

 

            Athletes from forty-four countries spread across five continents proudly entered BC Place last night, each with a story of triumph and each with a dream for Paralympic glory.  They were cheered and addressed and lauded all night, and while the celebrity appearances and thoughtful though redundant speeches were many, the focus never strayed far from the athletes and the setting for the games to come.  The ceremony exuded a sincere pride for country, a country that has provided inspiration for so many in the persons of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, athletes who helped expand the notions of what was possible for disabled individuals in athletic competition.

 

            All of the festivities were aided of course by the aforementioned wonderful people fortunate enough to be present.  There was an effervescent feel to the proceedings that lent a real energy among the crowd, an energy that was evident throughout.  There were roars of anticipatory fervor when the mere implication of a United States-Canada sled hockey match-up was made by Sir Craven, who termed it “the clash of the titans.”  When British Columbia native and Paralympic champion Rick Hansen was announced, the crowd erupted and showered Hansen with boomingly loud cheers of adulation and respect.  The lighting of the flame produced a similarly emphatic response, and the faces of the thousands in the stands emitted pure joy as watched that enduring flame ignite.  The torch and all it stands got a captive audience tonight, an audience whose passion, reverence, and excitement contributed to making last night a truly magical evening.

 

            To see additional coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver, go to www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.  

 

Photos taken by Carter Farmer.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:39
 
University of Arizona Women win East Regional Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   
The Lady Liberty Women's Wheelchair Basketball East Regional was held on Saturday January 30th, 2010 at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing, NY.  One of only 3 Regional Tournaments in the United States for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Women's Division.  6 teams participated and included exhibition games with the local NY/NJ Men's Wheelchair Basketball Teams from the Eastern Wheelchair Basketball Conference (EWBC).  The game of the day was the Lady Liberty facing the young ladies from the University of Arizona.  After a close first half, the women of U of Arizona pulled away from the local team by a score of 55 to 28 to win the East Regional

Final Standings East Regional Women's Division
1st Place - University of Arizona
2nd Place - Lady Liberty

All-Tournament Awards
Class I - Jillian Marks - Lady Liberty
Class I - Jennifer Poist - University of Arizona
Class II - Kelly Loth - Lady Liberty
Class II - Tomara Moss - University of Arizona
Class III - Nicole McDonald - University of Arizona
Class III - Lareese Lopez - University of Arizona
Freddy Jones Sportsmanship Award - Cacsmy Brutus - Lady Liberty
Most Valuable Player - Elizabeth Acosta - University of Arizona
Al Youakim Spirit Award - Dave Deas

Thanks to all the volunteers from the Wheelchair Sports Federation, NYC Parks and Recreation Department and Crowne Plaza LaGuardia Airport Hotel who helped make this a great tournament and first of an annual commitment to hosting Women's Wheelchair Basketball in NYC.  We look forward to seeing everyone next year for the 2nd Annual.
Last Updated on Saturday, 06 February 2010 00:42
 
NY RANGERS SLED HOCKEY TEAM WELCOME TWO INTO THEIR HOCKEY COMMUNITY Print E-mail
Written by Peter Quartuccio   

Wounded Warrior and Young Hopeful Participate in Team Practice and Scrimmage


TARRYTOWN, NY — The New York Rangers Sled Hockey Team welcomed two newcomers into their practice facility in Tarrytown, New York this past Thursday, January 7, Ben Wolken, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project, and Sam Greenberg, a 1st grader from Greenwich Village, New York.  With former NY Rangers player, Brian Mullen on hand to help at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility, two people with very different backgrounds came out to try the Adaptive Sport of Sled Hockey.

            Sam is a 6-year-old (“6-and-a-half,” he corrected me) New Yorker who too took part in his first sled hockey experience.  Already an athlete—Sam is a blue-belt in his Karate class— he chose sled hockey as his next sporting endeavor because, in the words of his father, “he likes going fast.”  It took some time, but Sam achieved a few good heads of steam on the ice.  What's more, even when surrounded with former and current paralympians during the team's scrimmage, a look of cool confidence never left his face.  After leaving the ice, Sam confirmed what that look suggested: he’d be back. Indeed, the experience received a shining endorsement from Sam, for when asked by his father how it went, Sam responded, “Can we come back tomorrow?”

 

            Ben Wolken is a Marine who was wounded in combat by an IED in Iraq several years ago.  A native of Brewster, New York, Ben initially found it very difficult adjusting to his new life as a disabled person.  Feeling isolated and alone, he admitted that his personal problems got him into a lot of trouble.  However, Ben soon found a way to deal with his troubles and alienation: participation in the Wounded Warrior Project.  Through their dedication and commitment to bettering the lives of veterans, Ben discovered a myriad of sports adapted for people with disabilities, one of which was sled hockey. Urged on by his hockey-loving wife, he decided to give it a go, and with an invite from the New York Rangers Sled Hockey Team, he took the ice in a sled for the first time.  After some initial issues with steering the at-times unwieldy sled, Ben seemed to get the hang of it, especially towards the end of the evening during the team scrimmage.  Ben received advice and encouragement from all of the Rangers, a fact which he gratefully acknowledged afterwards.  While he stated that it was “tiring” and admitted that he had trouble stopping, one could hear in his voice a shift from self-deprecation to growing confidence towards the end of the interview.  In fact, when asked if, in the event a team was short on players, he would consider suiting up and playing in the upcoming NESHL event in Danbury, Connecticut on Sunday, January 10, Ben was anything but dismissive.  That kind of confidence, along with the bravery it took to break out of his doldrums and participate, is the mark of a proud Marine, and the hope and sense of community that this practice engendered in him is what the Wounded Warrior Project is all about.

 

            For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, the NESHL, and other adapted sports events, please visit www.WoundedWarriorProject.org, www.NESHL.org, and www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org

 

Photos by Carter Farmer

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:44
 
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