March 12, 2006
TORINO, Italy – They knew what they needed to do, and they went out and did it. Tonight, the U.S. Sled Hockey Team defeated Japan, 3-0, getting them one step closer to qualifying for the semifinals.
After yesterday’s tough loss to Germany, the U.S. Team entered the Torino Esposizioni Ice Arena determined to get back on track. The game against Japan was a must-win for the U.S.; a loss would mean not making it to the medal round of this eight-team competition.
The first period got off to a fast start with Japan out-shooting the U.S., 7-2, but no goals.
In the second period, the U.S. came out firing. On an assist by Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) and Michael Hallman (Hatboro, Pa.), forward Brad Emmerson (Amherst/N.Y.) dropped the puck into Japan’s net at 1:45. The crowded roared fiercely while Emmerson and his teammates exchanged celebratory high-fives.
3:28 into the second period – goal number two. Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) picked up a pass from Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas), firing a clean shot right into the net, putting the U.S. up by two.
The third U.S. goal was scored by Tim Jones (Mt. Ephraim, N.J.) at 7:38 into the third period and was assisted by Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.).
“I thought the guys played fantastic,” said Head Coach Keith Blase (Scottsdale, Ariz.). “We didn’t play badly against Germany yesterday, we just had better results tonight. Obviously it was a must-win situation for us and that was the key. We responded the way we needed to respond, fought through the adversity and disappointment from last night and played hard like we needed to tonight.”
Team member Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) said knowing tonight’s game was do or die made it extremely emotionally charged.
“My Mom, Dad, sister and grandparents were all in the crowd tonight… so were so many family and friends of all the guys,” said Lipsett. “Having them there really pumped us up. My parents have sacrificed so many things for me and I just wanted to win the game for them. They came all the way out here and there’s no way we’d let them all go home disappointed.”
Dave Conklin, who’s been on the U.S. team since sled hockey’s debut at the Paralympic Winter Games in 1998, said they’ll all savor tonight’s win, but that they also need to keep focused on their next challenge.
“It feels good to get this win under our belt,” said Conklin. “We still have Tuesday’s game against Sweden, so we need to concentrate on that in order to get into the semifinals. We still haven’t played our best yet… the best is yet to come.”
The U.S. Team’s next game is on Tuesday, March 14 against Sweden at 5:00 p.m. The game is a must-win for the U.S. in order to continue on to the semifinals.
1. USA – Brad Emmerson (Alexi Salamone & Michael Hallman), 1:45
2. USA – Taylor Chace (Taylor Lipsett), 3:28
3. USA – Tim Jones (Alexi Salamone), 7:38
Shots on goal
1 2 3
USA 2 5 1
JPN 7 2 6
W L Points
USA 1 1 2
GER 2 0 4
JPN 1 1 2
SWE 0 2 0
W L Points
CAN 2 0 4
NOR 2 0 4
GBR 0 2 0
ITA 0 2 0