Taylor Lipsett portrait 

What is the best way to tell that hockey season is in full swing? Movember! As the U.S. sled hockey team gathered for our last training camp of 2012, the beards and mustaches associated with “No Shave November” and “Movember” were on full display! According to Wikipedia Movember is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives.” This is just one of the fun things we do as a team (for those of us who can grow facial hair) to build chemistry on and off the ice. And man is there chemistry!  I have never been part of a team that has developed this sort of chemistry so fast and so effortlessly. This will no doubt bode extremely well for us going into our first tournament of the season at the end of the month in Calgary.

Taylor Lipsett USA Hockey ring
My 2012 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships ring!

Six months ago, the journey of defending our world championship gold medal began. One of the hardest things about having success is letting it go, and moving forward to accomplish new goals. This past weekend in Charlotte, we officially acknowledged and let go of our accomplishments from last season after dinner at an impromptu world championship ring ceremony. Each player was called up one by one to receive their championship ring and shake the hands of the coaches. No one opened their ring box until everyone had been called up, and like everything else we do, we all opened and checked out our rings for the first time as a team! This was a great moment and reminded us of the success we have had, but also reminded us of the new goals we have set for ourselves, and that is to defend our world championship title. Coach Jeff Sauer then spoke to the team and emphasized that, “While getting to the top is a great accomplishment and took hard work the most difficult challenge is staying there.”

And with that being said, all focus has been zeroed in on the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Sledge Hockey A Pool World Championships in South Korea. There will be many stepping stone along the way including many practices, scrimmages, exhibitions, and a couple of tournaments, but everything leads to the top of the podium in South Korea! The team is excited; guys are motivated! And most importantly, guys have accepted that challenge of staying on top and each and every player is committed to achieving that goal! All of the hard work and sacrifice thus far will truly be tested for the first time this season in Calgary, Alberta where we will be competing at the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge. We plan to build off of our three very successful training camps we have had and translate everything we have learned into actual game situations. It will be a great test for us, and show us where we are at as a team, and what we need to do to get to where we want to be.

This will no doubt be an exciting season – a season where we try to continue to write the history books, and defend another world championship title.