Two teams with two different stories will play each other for the gold medal at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships.
The puck drops at 16:00 (CEST) in Hamar, Norway. USA, the reigning world and Paralympic champions, will take on Korea, a team that has never won a single world or Paralympic medal.
USA looks to maintain its dominance on the ice, having medaled at the last three World Championships.
Its front line of Brad Emmerson (Amherst, N.Y.), Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.) and Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) have been on the U.S. team for more than five years. The three forwards have provided the veteran skills needed to lead its squad deep into the tournament, which began on March 24.
But Taylor Lipsett (Richardson, Texas) and Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) have also played crucial roles in lifting the team to a 2-1record round-robin play. So far, they have combined for six goals and six assists.
USA’s only loss came against the Czech Republic in a 2-1 shootout, which set up the showdown against Canada in the semi-finals.
The U.S.– Canada matchup wasn’t expected to happen until the finals, and the U.S. hung on for the 2-1 win.
“We bring it all the way when it counts – all the guts,” team captain Chace said in an IPC interview after the win against Canada. “We’re trying to defend our title, and we did that (on Thursday against Canada). But it’s not over yet; this is just one win, one hockey game.”
Goalie Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) has also stepped up for the U.S. and leads the tournament goalkeepers with a 95.3 save percentage.
“We know it’s not over,” Cash said in an IPC interview. “We’ve still got a game on Sunday to play, and that’s where it’s going to really count.”
Korea is looking to build its program for 2018, when it hosts the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
A team that finished seventh at last year's worlds, Korea shocked the tournament when it defeated the Czech Republic, 2-0, to advance to the gold-medal game.
Its lone loss was to Canada in its second round-robin contest.
The last time the U.S. played Korea was in the 2010 Winter Games, and the U.S. won 5-0 in the preliminary round.
“It doesn’t matter,” Chace said of the last time the two teams met. “It’s a 0-0 game when the puck drops. … They’re smart. They’re in good condition. I think the biggest thing is they play as a team.”