INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. – The U.S. National Sled Team won the inaugural USA Hockey Sled Cup by defeating Korea, 5-2, here tonight at the Extreme Ice Center. Dan McCoy (Cheswick, Pa.) scored two goals, while four other U.S. players also had multi-point efforts in the championship game.
"It's always fun to win and to do so on home ice is exciting for all of us," said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the U.S. National Sled Team. "We had to fight hard to win this game tonight because Korea gave it their all. We scored the goals and made the key plays in the game when necessary to get the victory."
Team USA capitalized on its first power-play opportunity of the night at 3:21 of the first period. Paul Schaus (Buffalo, N.Y.) drove through the low slot with a defender on his hip and managed to tip a crossing pass from Greg Shaw (Merritt Island, Fla.) into the net.
Midway through the second period the teams exchanged goals. Team USA took a 2-0 lead at 6:05 on a McCoy breakaway that was created by Kevin McKee's (Davenport, Iowa) long pass from the U.S. blue line. A minute and a half later, Korea scored on a deflected point shot.
Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) put the U.S. ahead 3-1 with a power-play goal that he lofted in from the left circle at 9:17.
At 5:20 of the third stanza, Korea cut the U.S. lead to a single goal when it scored on a five-on-three advantage.
Team USA bounced back, however, with a shorthanded marker just 47 seconds later. Joshua Sweeney (Phoenix, Ariz.) forced the puck free near center ice, where Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.) scooped it up and cruised in alone. Page faked left then tucked the puck inside the right post for a 4-2 U.S. lead.
McCoy locked up the win for Team USA with 2:29 remaining in the game when his shot from the edge of the crease hit the netminder and trickled over the goal line.
Goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) made 10 saves, while Korea's Mangyun Yu turned aside 18 shots.
In the USA Hockey Sled Cup third-place game, Russia prevailed over the U.S. National Developmental Team 7-0.
Up next for the U.S. National Sled Team is a three-game series against Canada Feb. 14-16. All three games will be played in Ottawa, Ont.