COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Hockey today named 16 players to the 2008-09 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. The squad will compete in four international tournaments during the upcoming season, including the 2009 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in either Norway or the Czech Republic in April.
Highlighting the U.S. roster are 12 Paralympians, including three-time Paralympian Kip St. Germaine (East Falmouth, Mass.), who is returning to the team for the first time since playing for Team USA at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy. Also returning to the squad for the first time since Torino is Lonnie Hannah (Boerne, Texas), a two-time Paralympian. The pair join two-time Paralympian Chris Manns (Buffalo, N.Y.) as the most seasoned members of Team USA.
With the exception of St. Germaine and Hannah, the remaining members of this year's team spent time on the 2007-08 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, including 13 who helped the United States to the bronze medal at the 2008 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in Marlborough, Mass., this past April. Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) returns to the U.S. roster after pacing the team at the World Championship with 10 points (2-8) in six games.
Ray Maluta (Rochester, N.Y.), who took over as the head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team last year, will continue to serve as head coach in the coming season. He will again be joined behind the bench by Bill Corbo, Jr. (Merrimack, N.H.).
"Last year we were very young and inexperienced and we still competed closely with the other top teams," said Maluta. "This team has grown tremendously with one year of experience and the addition of three veteran players. I believe we'll be significantly better than last year and I'm excited and anxious to see this team perform on the world stage as we get closer to the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver."
The 2008-09 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team's international schedule will kick off at the Four Nations Challenge on Nov. 4 in Canada (site TBA). Then, from Jan. 8-18, Team USA will participate in the Japan Challenge in Nagano, followed by the VANOC Series in Vancouver from Feb. 23-March 1. In late March, the U.S. team will take on Canada in upstate New York (site and date TBA) prior to the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in either Norway or the Czech Republic in April.
Entering his second season as the head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, Maluta joined the program just after the start of last season and then led the team to the bronze medal at the 2008 World Championship. He has been involved with USA Hockey in a number of capacities over the years, including as team leader of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team that competed at the 2007 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Slovakia.
Maluta is currently the executive general manager of the ESL Sports Centre in Rochester, N.Y., a position he has held since 1999. The Sports Centre has played host to numerous USA Hockey National Championships and Player Development Camps. He has coached many levels of amateur hockey since his retirement from professional hockey in 1981. In that time span, Maluta has led teams from squirts to juniors to numerous state titles and national championship appearances.
Corbo is in his second season with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. He currently serves as the New England District's Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program. He works extensively with goaltenders and player development at all levels within the organization.
NOTES: The 2008-09 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team was chosen from a pool of 42 athletes who participated in a tryout camp in Rochester, N.Y., from June 26-28 ... Every member of the team has competed in a World Championship or Paralympic Winter Games ... The 16 players span four generations, ranging in age from 16 years, four months (Adam Page) to 44 years, five months (Lonnie Hannah). The average age of the team is 24 ... Nine states are represented among Team USA's 16 athletes.