NESHL in a Nutshell

 The NESHL is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 2005 as a means for regional Sled Hockey teams to engage in competitive, sportsmanlike hockey. We are the first-ever organized, multi-state, adult sled hockey league in the U.S, with Teams from Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Western Mass, and Pennsylvania currently in our league.

Sled hockey, also known as sledge hockey, is the fast, exciting, rough-and-tumble version of ice hockey played primarily by people with lower limb mobility impairments. The game is essentially the same as “stand-up” ice hockey, the major difference being that the players use a sled with two hockey skate blades mounted under a seat.


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From The Vancouver Sun:

VANCOUVER — In the end, it was as much about the game itself as it was about the gold medal.

The 2009 world champion United States added the 2010 Paralympic sledge hockey gold medal to their trophy case Saturday with a 2-0 win over a tenacious Japanese squad that finally got to the podium after three straight fifth-place finishes.

Norway took the bronze on Friday with a 2-1 win over Canada, the gold medallists in 2006, who finished fourth.

But the stunning success of this tournament and what it did to help grow the sport was as big a talking point Saturday as the final order of finish.

The game drew 5,810 fans, almost as many fans as UBC Thunderbird Arena can handle. The crowd loved the game. The players fed off the crowd. Games were televised live across Canada and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) beamed the final back to Japan.

The energy in the building . . . I don’t think you can beat it,” said American captain Andy Yohe. “All the folks in Canada love their hockey and it’s just exciting to be able to come in and play in that environment.

“I wasn’t in Salt Lake (2002 Games) or Nagano (1998), but I was in Turin (2006) and it wasn’t even close to the intensity that was out there. We think that’s awesome.”

Yohe and the rest of the Americans were dominant in this tournament, out-scoring opponents 19-0. They got goals Saturday from Alexi Salamone and Taylor Lipsett and shutout goaltending from Steve Cash. Lipsett iced the victory at 13:42 of the third 15-minute period on a power play after a holding call on Noritaki Ito by Norwegian referee Petter Vojan Hegle.

The Canadians, of course, were frustrated, disappointed and ultimately forward thinking after failing to get even a corner of the podium.

They were done in Friday by an inability to score and an unlucky bounce that produced the game-winning goal with just 16 seconds left in the third period.

“It’s terribly crushing,” said Canadian defenceman Adam Dixon, who got Canada’s lone goal Friday. "There are a couple of guys where this is their last game. Coming into today (Friday) after yesterday (a 3-1 semifinal loss to Japan) we wanted to at least walk out with our pride and a souvenir to go home with. It was a terrible bounce but we should have buried them earlier."

As many as five Canadians are likely to retire. Rosen, who’s 49, defencemen Herve Lord, 42, and Jean Labonte, 40, Shawn Matheson, 37, and forward Todd Nicholson, 41, being the prime candidates.

But there will be a changing of the guard. And if this tournament doesn’t make people want to play or follow the sport, nothing will.

“I feel sometimes like I was born to play sledge hockey and to be able to give back to the sport and help it grow, I believe this has been fantastic for the sport,” Canadian forward Mark Bowden said.

Canadian forward Greg Westlake hopes this tournament will create interest, particularly outside of Ontario and Quebec.

“You guys see the five guys here who might retire but you don’t see the young guys, the 18-year-olds, the 19-year-olds coming in,” said Westlake, a native of Oakville, Ont. “I encourage everyone to keep watching us, keep following the sport.“

You look at our roster right now and we’re basically a team from Ontario and Quebec. We need more players. We need our trials to be tougher, we need to make tougher cuts. If the thing that comes out of this experience is that we get more players from Western Canada then that’s huge. We need all of Canada.

”Yohe said it’s good to see a team like Japan get silver after three straight fifth-place finishes.“

Japan played great today,” he said. “It’s good to see other countries coming up and developing their programs. It’s good for the sport. As you see in other sports where a couple of countries dominate, it’s bad for the sport. The more teams we can get at a really high level the better off everybody’s going to be.”

 

From The Vancouver Sun:

VANCOUVER — The 2009 world sledge hockey champions regained the Paralympic honours Saturday, with the United States topping Japan 2-0 in the gold-medal showdown at UBC Thunderbird Arena.

With the win, the U.S. becomes the first country to win two Paralympic sledge hockey gold medals, adding to the 2002 gold it won in Salt Lake City.

Sweden took top spot when the sport made its Paralympic debut in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, while the Norwegians won in Nagano in 1998 and Canada was tops in 2006 in Turin, Italy.

The silver was Japan’s first medal in sledge hockey after finishing fifth the past three Games.

Norway won the bronze, thanks to a 2-1 win over Canada on Friday night, leaving the host Canadians in fourth place.

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead at 4:10 of the first period, with Alexi Salamone scoring from a scramble in the front of the net.

The U.S. had never trailed in this tournament and had out-scored opponents 17-0 before play started Saturday. But the Japanese tested American goalie Steve Cash, with the first big chance coming at 1:40 of the second period on a penalty shot.

Referee Petter Vojan Hegle of Norway called American captain Andy Yohe for interference on Japanese captain Takayuki Endo, who was alone on a breakaway. But Cash was equal to the challenge, as he made a glove save on Endo’s shot.

Japan pressed for the equalizer in the third period as both teams had chances, but the U.S. put the game out of reach with a power-play goal by Taylor Lipsett late in the third period.

 

 

From thestar.com:

VANCOUVER—They were the class of the tournament all week long and now the United States sledge hockey team has struck gold at the Vancouver Paralympics.

The top-ranked Americans beat Japan 2-0 today to capture the country’s second-ever Paralympic sledge hockey win.

The U.S. didn’t give up a single goal in the tournament and jumped on Japan four minutes into the gold medal game when Alexi Salamone scored on the power play.

Japan had a chance to pull even in the second period when it was awarded a penalty shot. But American netminder Steve Cash made a shoulder save to keep his team in front.

Japan had several great chances to tie the game late in the third period but couldn’t quite put the puck in the net. Taylor Lipsett added an insurance goal for the U.S. with 1:18 to play.

The American sledge hockey team also won gold at the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City. The silver is the first Paralympic sledge hockey medal in Japan’s history, and Norway took the bronze after beating Canada on Friday night.

 

 

 

Written by Peter Quartuccioparalympics sled hockey canada norway_2010 03 19_8171 by Wheelchair Sports Federation.
Photos by Carter Farmer

It is an adage as old as the hills, a warning of consequences and repercussions, and a piece of advice to the vain: “If you’re gonna talk the talk, you better walk the walk.” Team Canada should have taken heed to these words. They talked a great game, speaking with an air of arrogance that put them in a position where they had to win, else face the consequences of their brashness. Prior to the 2010 Paralympic games, Canadian Forward Billy Bridges denigrated the U.S. for their youth, boasting that Canada’s “combined Olympic experience is probably more than the combined age of [Team USA]. They come in with jitters and youth and nerves and we come in with the support of millions.” His teammate Herve Lord dismissed the possibility of the U.S. beating Canada, declaring bluntly that “it’s just not going to happen, us losing to them this year. No way.” Of course, he proved to be right, but not in the way he expected or wanted. The most topical of Canada’s brash remarks, however, was made by Canadian Alternate Captain Bradley Bowden, who spoke—prematurely, as it turned out—of the end of Norway’s reign as a sled hockey power, proclaiming that “[Norway has] been the top dog for years, but they’ve had their day.” Friday night, Norway proved Bowden wrong. Team Norway beat Canada 2-1, winning the Bronze and sending Team Canada home with nothing but anguish and regret.

The 1st period of the game was fast-paced, but largely uneventful: one penalty, no goals. It was in the 2nd, however, when the trend of missed opportunities for Team Canada began. Norway committed three penalties, which gave Canada a 5-on-4 advantage for over a third of the 2nd period. Canada could not cash in on their three power play chances, and despite peppering Norway goalie Roger Johansen with 14 shots over the course of 15 minutes, they ended the period deadlocked at zero. The Canadians finally broke through in the 3rd, as Adam Dixon scored just under three minutes into the period. After that, it all unraveled for Canada.

Shortly after the goal—34 seconds to be exact—Dixon committed a two-minute minor penalty, almost immediately squelching the momentum gained by his goal. Dixon’s penalty was followed by another, then another, and then came the most costly mistake of all: coinciding with penalty on Norway’s Helge Bjornstad, Canada was penalized for Falling on the Puck, which resulted in a penalty shot opportunity for the Norwegians. Canada’s goalie Paul Rosen was irate, throwing his mask on the ice and having to be restrained by his teammates. Perhaps Rosen never really collected himself, for Norway’s Rolf Elnar Pederson beat Rosen to his left, tying the game up 1-1. Canada was clearly shaken up by the goal, and their play showed it. They looked desperate and flustered, almost as if they could not believe losing this game was a legitimate possibility. With 3.6 seconds left in the game, Norway’s Eskil Hagen made that possibility a reality. His wobbly shot deflected off of Billy Bridges and floated above the outstretched arms of Rosen and into the net. The unwitting assistance of a Canadian player in the goal provided the perfect synopsis of the game: Canada beat themselves. Those in attendance at the UBC Thunderbird Arena were shocked. When the public address announcer read Hagen’s name over the loud speakers, you could hear a pin drop, or better yet, a maple leaf fall to the ground. One could wager a hefty sum that no hockey game in Canada was ever so quiet as it was during those final 3.6 seconds following Hagen’s goal

After Norway’s 3-0 loss to Team USA on Thursday night, some of the Norway players met with the media. When the question was posed to Hagen if he felt confident going into the Bronze Medal game against Canada, he responded, “Yes. We’ve beaten them before. We know we can beat them.” Some might call this bragging, but in the words of MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” With his game-winning goal, Hagen backed up his words; Canada could not. The closing moments of their loss gave a perfect example of their false braggadocio. After the face-off following the game-winning goal, Canadian Billy Bridges took a cheap shot on a Norway player in what was presumably retaliation for a hit made on Bridges earlier. By acting the role of tough guy when the game was essentially over, Bridges’ actions exemplified the affected and spurious bravado of Team Canada.

Before the Paralympics began, there was a good deal of speculation among the Canadian media that Canada could sweep the hockey medals, adding a Sled Hockey Gold to those won by the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Hockey teams. Just speculation, it turned out to be; empty words, very much like the empty chatter of Team Canada. Redemption may eventually come for the Canadians in the future, but four years is an awfully long time. The Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympics was their chance to achieve expectations, to live up to the hype of their own making, and to win Gold on their home soil. They blew it.

 

From USA Hockey:

By Alex Clark
USAHockey.com

The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team will face off against an unlikely opponent on Saturday as it goes for its second-ever Paralympic Winter Games gold medal. Following a stunning upset victory over Canada in the semifinals, Japan will play Team USA in its first-ever Paralympic title game appearance.

The U.S. and Japan met in both teams’ final preliminary-round game of the tournament, with Team USA claiming a 6-0 victory last Tuesday. The U.S. has reason to be optimistic, as it has posted a 7-0-0-0 record against Japan during the 2009-10 season and has outscored Japan, 29-2, in the process.

japan cov 1

Nikko Landeros and Team USA face Japan for the gold medal on Saturday at noon PDT.
Game notes Game blog
Watch live

But the Japan team that topped Canada, 3-1, on Thursday would be a very difficult out. Notorious for its speed, Japan added a physical element to its game against Canada that led to timely turnovers and odd-man rushes. While Canada carried play for much of the game, Japan proved opportunistic and guaranteed itself its first ever medal in Paralympic sled hockey tournament history.For the U.S. to be successful, it will need to rely on that which has been perfect thus far this tournament: its defense and goaltending. Team USA has yet to surrender a goal against in four games, holding its opponents to 29 total shots in those games and allowing double-digit shots only once.

The U.S. offense, frequently sparked by its mobile defense, will get its chances as the game progresses. Japan relies on the speed of forward Daisuke Oehara and reliability of defenseman Takayuki Endo, but doesn’t display the roster depth seen on Team USA. And while goaltender Mitsuru Nagase admittedly played the game of his career against Canada, he may be called upon to do the same in back-to-back games for Japan to stand a chance.

Still, Team USA is not taking its opponent for granted.

“We’ve seen what kind of team Japan can be,” said Bubba Torres (Riverside, N.J.). “They played the game of their lives against Canada, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t think they can do it again. We need to limit their chances and hopefully we can wear them down as the game goes on.”

The coaching staff of Team USA made a commitment two years ago to get the U.S. to the championship game of every tournament in which it competed. Now, the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has a chance to do what no other country has done: win its second Paralympic sled hockey gold. Keeping emotions in check will be another key to Team USA’s success, according to head coach Ray Maluta.

“We might have been a little tight in the first period against Norway,” said Maluta of Team USA’s semifinal win. “I think we were a little over-excited. We’re exactly where we wanted to be now, and our guys just need to play their game to reach their goal.”

 

 
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