By Josh Pauls, Two-Time Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medalist | May 02, 2015, 4:24 p.m. (ET)


The matchup is set. Canada bested Russia and we took down Norway. It is an all North American gold-medal game where we take on our neighbors to the north in a game that is sure to only add to the rivalry we already have with them. If you happen to be in the Buffalo area (or anywhere close, really) you won’t want to miss this game with the chance at a world championship on the line. Puck drop is set for 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday and tickets are $20. It’ll also be live on NBC Sports Network.


Our respective semifinal games were different. Russia gave Canada all it could handle in a great 3-2 game that we were able to take in from the stands. Norway, while valiant in their efforts against us, was overwhelmed by our team’s speed and puck control, which resulted in a 6-0 victory for us. After the game was over, though, we were treated to something special that has not happened before.

Our national team is not the only sled hockey team that chooses some of the best sled players to represent the United States. We also have a developmental team, which acts as the farm team for our national team, attempting to develop young prospects as well as have guys on standby in case the national team encounters an emergency. There is also the women’s sled team, not currently under USA Hockey, which selects the best women to play and represent our country. The developmental team was just recently brought under the USA Hockey umbrella and has benefited from a tougher selection process due to the increase in overall talent in the country, better funding and concurrent camps with the national team to aid their growth and progress. The women’s team is privately funded but has seen increased awareness and unprecedented competition with the International Women’s Cup held last November. This growth in women’s sled hockey has been embodied by Kelsey DiClaudio, who is also a part of the developmental team.

With world’s being in Buffalo, it is a relatively short trip for our other two sled teams to be able to make the trip. Both the developmental team and women’s team have series against their Canadian counterparts this weekend and were both in attendance for our semifinal game against Norway. Having that kind of support from other sled players at the national level is something we all really appreciate.

On that note, the support Buffalo and people all around the U.S. have given us is tremendous. Having all the Facebook messages, the tweets and even comments passing by people on the street really mean a lot and we really feel like we’ve got the whole country behind us. Having all three U.S. teams in the same place is something that does not usually happen and we were able to get a picture with all the teams. Our teams may be different. Some of us have world championships, some have only a series against Canada, and some may have only had their first IPC-sanctioned tournament last year. What brings us together, however, is our love of the best sport on ice and our ability and honor to represent the greatest country in the world.

America, I know we will do our best in the gold-medal game. We are very close to attaining our goal of a gold medal for each other, our staff and for all of you supporting us through this tournament and throughout the year. Thank you for that and hopefully the next time you hear from me, we are world champions.

Going for gold,

Spuds