Rico Roman in action against Korea in the Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game between United States and Korea at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 13, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

Sled hockey — also known as sledge hockey or Para ice hockey — was born in the 1960s at a physical rehabilitation center in Stockholm, Sweden. A group of hockey players didn’t want to give up the sport that they loved after becoming disabled, so they set about inventing a game that had all the physicality, speed and technical skills of hockey but for people who couldn’t play standing hockey. They took a sled and modified it with skate blades, fashioned poles with bike handles for sticks, and developed the sport on a frozen lake in Stockholm.

It took a while for the sport to catch on around the world. It became popular in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, then slowly spread in the 1980s. By the Paralympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994, sled hockey had made it onto the Paralympic program.

Those modified sleds from the 1960s have given way to strong, light sleds made from aluminum or steel set on top of two blades. Players carry two sticks that have a pick on one end for digging into the ice and a blade on the other to shoot and pass. Players wear typical hockey equipment as hits are very much a part of the game and the puck flies at more than 60 miles per hour.

Team USA wasn’t a major player early on, as sled hockey had only been played in the U.S. starting in the late 1980s. In fact, an American team didn’t even compete at the 1994 Games. The Americans made their Paralympic debut in 1998 and finished in sixth place. But by 2002, Team USA had caught up and passed the rest of the world in winning its first gold medal. After taking bronze in 2006, the U.S. has won gold at every Paralympics since, losing just one game in Paralympic play during that time. The U.S. is tied with Canada and Norway with five total medals, but those two nations can boast only a single gold medal each.

There is just a single sled hockey tournament at the Games. The sport is officially mixed gender but just two women have competed thus far.

Sled hockey at the Games will take place at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, which is also a host venue hockey during the Olympic Winter Games.

Updated on February 13, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

Team USA has a big hole to fill as Steve Cash, the only player to win four Paralympic sled hockey medals, announced his retirement in October. Teammates will of course miss his strong play — Cash allowed just three career goals in 15 Paralympic games — but also his leadership. Cash’s most experienced potential replacement is Jen Lee, a 35-year-old veteran of two Paralympic teams and five world championship teams.

Even with Cash’s departure, the U.S. will again boast an experienced team at the Games. The 2018 gold-medal winning team included 10 players who had been in Sochi, Russia, four years earlier. Some of those 10 will carry over to Beijing as well, such as 2018 tournament MVP Brody Roybal and Declan Farmer, who scored the winning goal in the 2018 gold-medal game.

Declan Farmer (Tampa, Florida): Only 23 years old, Farmer is already one of the veteran leaders of Team USA, having made his debut for the national team at the age of 14. After making his Paralympic debut in 2014, Farmer tied the Paralympic goal-scoring record in PyeongChang with 11 goals, including the game-tying and game-winning goals against Canada to win the gold medal.

Josh Pauls (Green Brook, New Jersey): A U.S. mainstay across three Paralympic Games, Pauls can join Steve Cash in the exclusive four gold medal club should the U.S. come out on top in Beijing. Now 29, Pauls was the youngest member of the 2010 Vancouver team that kickstarted Team USA’s gold-medal run. Off the ice, the U.S. captain got married the weekend after winning another gold medal at the 2021 world championships in October.

Brody Roybal (Northlake, Illinois): Like Farmer, Roybal made his national team debut in his early teens. Roybal was just 15 and the youngest member of the Paralympic team in Sochi, where he scored two goals in five games. By 2018 he was MVP of the tournament in PyeongChang and won the same honor at last year’s world championships.

Jack Wallace (Franklin Lakes, New Jersey): Wallace was one of the newcomers four years ago in PyeongChang, winning his first Paralympic gold medal with Team USA. Wallace has been busy ever since, not only with sled hockey but also training in paracanoe with the hope of competing in the Summer Games one day. Wallace only picked up paracanoe in 2019 and missed out on qualifying for Tokyo, but he plans to go after a spot in Paris in 2024.

Meet the full U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team in this teamusa.org article.

March 5 – U.S. vs. Canada
March 6 – U.S. vs. South Korea
March 8 – U.S. vs. Russian Paralympic Committee
March 9 – Playoffs begin with quarterfinals
March 11 – Semifinals 
March 12 – Bronze-medal game
March 13 – Gold-medal game