TORINO, Italy – The U.S. Sled Hockey Team didn’t start the 2006 Paralympic Games quite the way they had envisioned: a loss. The U.S. fell short against Germany on Saturday, March 11, 2-1.
Germany opened the scoring three minutes (3:24) into the first period on a powerplay, after U.S. Team member Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) was called for holding.
The second goal for Germany came just one minute later at 4:32, also on a powerplay, after Lonnie Hannah (Mansfield, Texas) racked-up two minutes in the box for interference.
All hope was not lost. At 9:20, on an assist by Chris Manns (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Dave Conklin (La Crosse, Wis.), Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.) took possession of the puck and broke free for Germany’s net. One-on-one with goalie, Howard rifled one past him, bringing the score to 2-1.
The second and third periods could best be summarized by cat and mouse play, with neither team scoring. However, the U.S. out-shot Germany two out of the three periods, but still came up short, resulting in a 2-1 win for Germany.
As Head Coach Keith Blase (Scottsdale, Ariz.) said, it wasn’t that Germany dominated on the ice, but rather that the U.S. just had trouble hitting the net.
“I don’t really think we played as bad as the end result showed,” said Coach Blase. “We could have been up three-nothing early in the game because of all of the shoots we took early-on, but we weren’t because we didn’t hit the net.
All of the sudden Germany comes back and scores and before we know it, we’re down two-nothing, so there we are, trying to battle back. I think we did a pretty good job of it, but we just came up short… we couldn’t find the net.”
U.S. Team captain Joe Howard said he’s not happy that this is how the team started out the competition, but he still has a lot of confidence moving forward.
“It’s one game at a time,” said Howard. “Any team can beat any other team at any given time. We’ve gotta get over this and hopefully we’ll get over it quick. Now we have to start concentrating on tomorrow, that’s it.”
When asked what the team’s strategy for tomorrow’s game against Japan is, Coach Blase simply remarked, “win.”
The U.S. Team plays Japan Sunday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m.
GER – Kessler (Segreff & Stumpe), 3:24
GER – Segreff, 4:32
USA – Howard (Conklin & Manns), 9:20
Shots on goal (USA/GER)
United States Germany
DATE OPPONENT Time (LOCAL/EST)
March 12 Japan 8:30 p.m./2:30 p.m.
March 14 Sweden 5:00 p.m./11:00 a.m.
March 16 Semifinals 11:00 a.m./5:00 a.m.
8:30 p.m./2:30 p.m.
March 18 Bronze Medal Game 5:00 p.m./11:00 a.m.
Gold Medal Game 8:30 p.m./2:30 p.m.
NOTE: The entire U.S. Team is skating in patriotic sleds. While most sledges come in standard-issue colors, every member of the U.S. Team has theirs emblazoned with a patriotic red, white and blue banner, a move inspired by team captain Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.), who had this to say about the design:
“I started doing it in 2000 and it has kind of caught on,” said Howard. “It’s all about team unity. It makes us look like we are a team and brings out a little more of our patriotism. We aren’t playing for local teams right now, we’re playing for our country.”