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Josh Pauls: Shutting Out Germany And Hanging With The Buffalo Bills

By Josh Pauls, Two-Time Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medalist | April 29, 2015, 1:42 p.m. (ET)

Our second game in as many days ended with a 7-0 final over Germany to give us six points and a first-place standing in Group B. The game went back and forth for the first couple minutes up until Declan Farmer got us on the board with a floater from center ice. Once that happened, we found our game to get the win.

With the IPC never scheduling more than two games in a row for us (thank goodness), we had a day off. Our definition of day off and yours may differ. Our day off consisted of us having a practice that ended with us playing for our golden “cheese” football. This is a tradition we have participated in ever since Coach Sauer took over. It regularly is a shootout competition but this time it was awarded for most creative shootout attempt. Once Tyler Carron came away with the win, it was time for us to head to Ralph Wilson Stadium for a tour of the Buffalo Bills’ facilities.

We started off by checking out the game-day field where our guide gave us rundown of all the different renovations that the stadium underwent recently. Once he said that he had some footballs for us to throw around it quickly turned into a little pickup game. Splitting up players and staff alike, the game was scoreless for a good portion of the game until Sam Mumper gave our team the lead with a touchdown reception. The other team quickly countered with a long catch and run by Steve Cash, which evened up the score. After that, all the running (I use this term extremely lightly for most of our guys) and wheeling got the best of us so we lined up to decide the game by a field goal contest kicking from the two. Once all our eligible (read: legless) players kicked, it turned to our staff where general manager Dan Brennan gave our team the win with his boot.

Once the game officially ended, we popped into the press conference room, where I threw on a Bills jersey and helmet and took my first press conference as the newest punter on the Bills. After that, we were given a tour of the Bills game-day locker room. While we only got to check out the stalls, it was still a great experience to see the amenities provided to professional football players. Have to say, I was disappointed not to see a stall with my name on it yet (after all, I just gave a presser about the Bills choosing me!), but at least I was able to spread awareness about the phenomenon plaguing our society: turf toe.

The final part of our visit consisted of checking out the last few minutes of the Bills walkthrough. I’ll be honest and say I wondered if I’d be able to send my Cowboys some tips for their Week 16 matchup against the Bills, but we were asked to keep our phones out until practice ended, so, sorry, Jerry.

Now, I never made my team loyalty known while I was there, but the Bills players and staff were very accommodating to all of us, taking the time to chat with us after their practice ended. It was also a great honor to meet Rex Ryan, the coach of the Bills. Despite never being a fan of any team he coached, I always respected his coaching style and the way he dealt with media in a no-nonsense fashion. Being able to meet some of the very top football players and coaches in the country was such a great experience and being able to play a game on their field was a great bonus.

Our day off concluded with some great barbeque courtesy of Jim “Puck Shooter” Smith and J.J. O’Connor (the godfather of U.S. sled hockey) at one of my favorite places in Buffalo, the Dinosaur BBQ. It was definitely a fantastic day off and we are really looking forward to (and are ready to) taking on Italy in our next game. The 2 p.m. matinee can be seen on live stream at NBC Sports Live Extra. Can’t catch it then? Don’t worry, it’ll be on same-day tape delay on NBC Sports Network at 10:30 p.m.

Blog you soon,


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Josh Pauls

Sled Hockey
US Paralympics