The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team has firmly established itself as the dominant team in the world as it won the 2015 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge (Sled) Hockey World Championships in a dominant 3-0 performance over Team Canada on Sunday, May 3rd. The games were held at the impressive HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo in front of record crowds, while NBC Sports Group live-streamed the entire tournament to a national television audience.
Team USA fortifies its “best in the world” standing with this World Championship following a year after they won IPC Gold at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This team is on a roll! For the first time ever, they went undefeated in international play for the year. The U.S. Sled Team has now won gold in three of the last four IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships, and earned its fifth championship in the last seven major international competitions – a simply amazing performance sustained over time.
The subtle, but impressively powerful, benefits of this team’s success are, 1) the exposure of this impressive adaptive sport to millions of fans, and 2) the inspiration it brings to disabled athletes everywhere. The sled hockey stars of Team USA are towering figures on an international stage. They are heroes to countless people, many of whom will take up the sport having seen the glorious path paved by the likes of Adam Page, Josh Pauls, Declan Farmer, Dan McCoy, Brody Roybal, a goalie named Cash, and the other members of this and former Team USA rosters.
The sport of sled hockey is exploding across the nation but it will need sustained support and guidance, formally from USA Hockey, but also informally in communities and ice rinks across the country where new programs and teams will be established. These programs will come with a cost, requiring generous action from across our communities, while organizations like The Sled Hockey Foundation will look to provide resources.
Growing productive and sustainable programs
in our communities
requires leadership, focus, and commitment.
Effective and sound leadership will need to be found on the ice, in the dressing rooms, behind the benches, and among the sled hockey organizers – the nameless friends and family members who make it all happen. Thoughtful approaches, clear communication, consistent messages, and cooperative spirits must inform every team.
With those attributes will come growth and future success for thousands of sled hockey athletes – and the chance to win on the world stage, just like in 2015!