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Josh Pauls: Playing Fast, Physical Hockey

By Josh Pauls, Two-Time Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medalist | May 01, 2015, 1:38 p.m. (ET)

In taking on the Italian team, we faced a country that we only seldom get to play. Our previous meeting against them was in Sochi, Russia, at the Paralympics last year, which resulted in a 5-1 score in favor of us. Although the score may indicate a lopsided game, the actual play on the ice was fairly even. This latest game in the series, our final one of the preliminary round, was pretty similar through the first period. Italy has always been a solid hockey team to play against and they really held strong through the first period with a stellar showing from their goaltender. We entered the first intermission with a single goal lead thanks to a left-handed tally by Declan Farmer.

Now, the name of our game is fast, physical hockey and many times it wears teams down. Once we got a rhythm going, it became a great game to be a part of. I’m no expert in hockey but I feel like with Italy’s lack of depth, our physicality eventually got the best of them, with the final score ending 7-0. The victory gave us three wins to wrap up prelim play. Our goal the entire year has been to get to the gold-medal game to give ourselves a chance at that top prize and we are on our way.

The three games we have played are in the past now. We’ll build on what we’ve done in the prelim round as we get focused for our semifinal matchup tonight. All we need is one more win to put us in the position we’ve been striving for ever since the day tryouts ended and the roster was announced.

It’s amazing to think how far we’ve all come since July when we got together for the first time at tryouts. We took six new players to replace the guys we lost from last year, and for some teams that could be a disadvantage. However, those players were chosen because they were ready to compete on the world stage.

There has been a significant improvement from not only our new guys but also our returning players, especially one kid named Brody Roybal. He burst onto the stage at the Paralympics last year and has only gotten better since. From playing on a line with him and Declan last year to moving the puck up to him from defense this year, I have seen tremendous improvement on his part and that is because of the hard work he puts in while living in Chicago with my replacement on that line, Kevin McKee. Some people may disagree, but I feel like Kevin, Brody and Declan are playing much better than I did with the kids last year and are one of the top lines in the world right now. Hopefully none of them read this so it doesn’t go to their heads! I’m not just talking them up for the fun of it, so if I was you and I was watching our semifinal game, I would keep an eye out for them and watch the magic that unfolds in that game and beyond.

I hope I got you all excited for our next game! Be sure to check it out. It’s being live streamed at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra and will be shown on NBC Sports Network after the NHL games that evening (tape delay).

Hope you are enjoying the ride,


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Josh Pauls

Sled Hockey
US Paralympics