Gold isn’t just the goal for the sled hockey players who will represent the United States at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in March.
It’s the expectation.
More than half of the players named to the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team are returning gold medalists, led by four two-time returning gold medalists in forward Adam Page, defensemen Nikko Landeros and Josh Pauls, and three-time Paralympic medalist and goalie Steve Cash.
The 17-player team roster was announced on Monday during the second period intermission of the NHL’s Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in New York City.
In addition to the two-time gold medalists (Cash also won bronze in 2006), six other players were part of the gold-medal winning team in Sochi in 2014, including high-scoring Declan Farmer, who has led all scorers at the World Sled Hockey Challenge four years in a row, leading Team USA to the title in all four of those years.
Brody Roybal, who is another high-scoring forward, along with goalie Jen Lee, defenseman Tyler Carron and forwards Rico Roman and Kevin McKee round out the returning gold medalists.
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Newcomers to the team include defensemen Ralph DeQuebec and Billy Hanning, and forwards Jack Wallace, Travis Dodson, Luke McDermott, Noah Grove and Josh Misiewicz.
Dodson isn’t totally new to the Paralympic Winter Games though, competing in Nordic skiing in Sochi in 2014.
Team USA is the first team to win the Paralympic sled hockey gold medal more than once, and is 18-1-0-6-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L-T) in all-time Paralympic play. Sled hockey debuted at the Paralympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994, but Team USA did not send a team until 1998, finishing sixth before going on its current medal-winning streak after winning gold in Salt Lake City in 2002.
The World Sled Hockey Challenge was the first of three international events for Team USA before heading to South Korea for the 2018 Paralympics March 8-18. Team USA will travel to Torino, Italy for a tournament Jan. 19-28, and take part in a Border Series versus Canada Feb. 7-11 in Buffalo, New York, and Port Colborne, Ontario.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.