2010 Vancouver Paralympics - Day Six Print
Written by Peter Quartuccio   
 
 Team USA Fulfills Their End of the Bargain, but Canada Does Not: U.S. to Face Japan on Saturday for Paralympic Gold

            Upset looked to be the order of the day after the 1st period of the U.S. versus Norway sled hockey game on Thursday night.  Team Japan had stunned the host country earlier on, beating Canada in their signature sport to earn a place in the 2010 Paralympic Sled Hockey Finals on Saturday.  Some might say that the Canadians went into the game looking past Japan, and of course the emphasis will be placed on how Canada blew it rather than how Team Japan won it in what U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Forward Tim Jones called “one of the best games I’ve ever seen [a team play].”  Truth be told, Team Japan simply outplayed Canada, which is remarkable considering they had endured a 6-0 trouncing on Tuesday night against Team USA.

            Norway looked as if they could continue the trend and ensure that everyone would get the matchup they’ve been dying for, but with the Bronze rather than the Gold at stake.  The U.S. looked tight as a drum in the 1st period.  They were being pushed around and making poor passes.  Ray Maluta, head coach of Team USA, said after the game that his team was “nervous” in the 1st period, and that they were “pressing” rather than playing their game.   They, like Canada, looked ripe for an upset.  Things changed, however, in the 2nd period.  About eight minutes into the period, American Forward Greg Shaw made a slick move near the Norway net, fooling Norway’s goalie Roger Johansen and putting the puck past him.  Shaw’s goal opened the floodgates, not in the form of a torrent of goals, but in a surge of confidence.  Amid chants of “Let’s Go Norway” that easily drowned out the cheers of “USA,” Team USA took over the game after Shaw’s goal, one which may very well go down as the most important goal scored in recent U.S. Sled Hockey history.  Not to be overlooked, however, was the contribution of goalie Steve Cash, who has been simply magnificent during the Paralympics.  “Money,” as he is known on the squad, has not allowed a goal in 165 consecutive minutes of Paralympic play.  Just minutes after Shaw scored, Norway had a breakaway chance that could’ve resulted in an equalizing goal and a swift momentum shift back to the Norwegians.  Cash, however, made a great save, protecting the lead and maintaining the momentum.  The U.S. scored twice after Cash’s save, a power play goal by Taylor Chace in the 2nd and a late 3rd period goal by Joe Howard, which essentially put a bow on Team USA’s 3-0 win.

 

            When asked how he feels about his players, Coach Maluta replied, “I love our team.”  Team USA gave him good reason to feel that way on Thursday night.  They showed determination and grit, battling a tough team in Norway with nothing to lose, and recovering from a very shaky first 20 minutes.  They, in short, proved they can take a punch; Team Canada cannot make the same claim.  The Canadians will play Team Norway on Friday night for the Bronze.  (Norway lost to Canada 5-0 earlier in the Paralympics.)  For the U.S., they will have a chance to win their second Paralympic Gold Medal in Sled Hockey on Saturday against Japan at 12:00 PM local time.

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

 
 
 
All photos are by Carter Farmer.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 18:59