U.S. shuts out Czech Republic

Jan. 20, 2010, 2:12 p.m. (ET)

NAGANO CITY, Japan - Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) stopped all 12 shots faced and Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.) scored with less than two minutes remaining in the third period as the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team blanked the Czech Republic, 1-0, in its second game of the 2010 Japan Para Ice Sledge Hockey Championships. Team USA improved to 1-0-0-1 overall in the tournament.

This week's event marks the final tune-up for Team USA before the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., this March.

"Joe's late goal was big for our confidence moving forward," said Ray Maluta, head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. "We have three more games here to reach a peak that I hope we can carry for the next two months."

Neither team created many prime scoring opportunities throughout the first two periods of play. Team USA's best chance came in the second period when Bubba Torres (Riverside, N.J.) missed the net from the high slot. The U.S. outshot the Czech Republic, 13-7, over the first two frames.

Howard scored the game's only goal thanks to a strong cycle by Team USA. The three-time Paralympian escaped from a Czech Republic defenseman and skated through the slot, firing a shot high over a diving Jan Matousek for the game-winner.

Cash made a sprawling save with 20 seconds remaining in the contest to secure the U.S. victory. The shutout marked his sixth in 12 games during the 2009-10 season.

Team USA will face Japan in its final preliminary round game of the tournament tomorrow (Jan. 21) at 6:30 p.m. JST.

: Joe Howard was named Team USA's Player of the Game ... The Japan Para Ice Sledge Hockey Championships is the second International Paralympic Committee sanctioned event of the 2009-10 season. Team USA captured the 2009 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I., last November ... Full coverage of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, including a team roster, photos, features, and stats are available at usahockey.com ... The 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, consisting of 15 of the 18 members of the 2009-10 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, was named in December. Team USA will participate in the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., March 13-20.

Scoring By Period

USA 0 0 1 1
CZE 0 0 0 0

First Period - Scoring: None. Penalties: USA, Howard (elbowing), 10:53.

Second Period - Scoring: None. Penalties: CZE, Hrbek (interference), 3:24; USA, Shaw (boarding), 14:39.

Third Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Howard (Salamone, Torres), 13:36. Penalties: None.

Shots by Period123Total
USA 7 6 3 16
CZE 4 3 5 12
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Cash 45:00 4-4 3-3 5-5 12-12
CZE, Vapenka 24:58 7-7 5-5 -- 12-12
CZE, Matousek 19:32 -- 1-1 3-2 4-3

Power Play: USA 0-1; CZE 0-2
Penalties: USA 2-4; CZE 1-2