U.S. advances to semifinals with 6-0 defeat of Japan

March 16, 2010, 11:32 p.m. (ET)

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team defeated Japan this afternoon, 6-0, in its final preliminary-round game of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. With the win, Team USA improved to 3-0-0-0 overall and earned Group A's top seed entering Thursday's (March 18) semifinal round.

Six different players scored for Team USA, which will face the loser of tonight's preliminary-round showdown between Canada and Norway for the right to play in the tournament's gold-medal game.

"We're continuing to improve with each passing game," said Ray Maluta, head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. "We connected on more of our prime chances tonight, and only committed a handful of mistakes."

Team USA jumped out to a 1-0 lead just one minute into the game. After receiving a pass from Tim Jones (Mt. Ephraim, N.J.) at the offensive blue line, captain Andy Yohe (Bettendorf, Iowa) skated to the top of the right circle and slid a pass to Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.) in the high slot. Page's first shot attempt failed to get through, but he collected the rebound and snapped the puck low to the far post for his first goal of the tournament.

Greg Shaw (Park City, Utah) gave Team USA a 2-0 lead late in the opening period. After intercepting a pass at the U.S. blue line, Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) broke through the neutral zone on a two-on-one rush with Shaw. When the Japanese defenseman engaged with Lipsett, he slipped a pass to Shaw, who fired a shot past the glove of Japan goaltender Mitsuru Nagase.

Five minutes into the second period, Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) notched his third goal of the tournament on the power play, cutting through traffic between the faceoff circles and scoring over Nagase's glove to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead. Lipsett collected his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament eight minutes later, holding onto the puck on a two-on-one rush and shuffling a shot past Nagase's blocker for an unassisted tally.

U.S. goalie Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) turned aside a breakaway chance by Japan's Daisuke Uehara to send Team USA into the second intermission with a 4-0 advantage. Cash made five saves in 30 minutes of action before being replaced by Mike Blabac (Buffalo, N.Y.) at the start of the third period.

Team USA extended its lead to 5-0 four minutes into the third period on the first goal of the tournament by Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.). The four-time Paralympian escaped a defender at the Japanese blue line and fired a hard wrist shot over Nagase's blocker. Nikko Landeros' (Berthoud, Colo.) first career goal five minutes later closed out the scoring.

NOTES: If Norway defeats Canada later this evening, Team USA will face Canada on Thursday (March 18) at 12 p.m. PDT. If Canada beats Norway, the U.S. will take on Norway at 7 p.m. PDT on Thursday ... Team USA went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Japan was 0-for-4 with the man advantage ... In seven meetings with Japan during the 2009-10 season, Team USA posted a perfect 7-0-0-0 record, outscoring Japan, 29-2, in those games ... In earlier action, the Czech Republic knocked off South Korea, 4-2, while Sweden edged Italy, 1-0 ... The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team captured the bronze medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and earned gold at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah ... No team has won gold more than once in the four Paralympic Winter Games of which sled hockey has been a part (Sweden-1994; Norway-1998; United States-2002; Canada-2006) ... Full coverage of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, including a team roster, photos, features, and game notes 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.


Scoring By Period

JPN    0 -    0 -    0 -    0
USA    2 -    2 -    2 -    6
First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Page (Yohe, Jones), 1:05; 2, USA, Shaw (Lipsett), 12:01. Penalties: USA, Page (hooking), 6:01; USA, Chace (elbowing), 13:31.

Second Period - Scoring: 3, USA, Salamone (Yohe), 5:13 (pp); 4, USA, Lipsett (unassisted), 13:22. Penalties: JPN, Ishida (hooking), 3:57; USA, Lipsett (charging), 6:27; JPN, Sudo (holding), 6:36; JPN, Ishida (holding), 7:23.

Third Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Howard (Chace), 4:10; 6, USA, Landeros (unassisted), 8:54. Penalties: USA, Jones (interference), 5:54.

Shots by Period
JPN    4    1    1    6
USA    6    7    6    19
Goaltenders (SH/SV)    1    2    3    Total
JPN, Nagase 34:10    6-4  7-5   2-1    15-10
JPN, Fukushima 10:50    --    --    4-3    4-3
USA, Cash 30:00    4-4    1-1    --    5-5
USA, Blabac 15:00    --    --    1-1    1-1
Power Play: JPN 0-4; USA 1-4
Penalties: JPN 3-6; USA 4-8
Officials: Petter Vojan Hegle (referee); Lodewijk Beelen (linesman), Eric Dagenais (linesman)
Attendance: 5,468