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, Maryland, Vermont, 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 USA Hockey website:

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team defeated Japan this afternoon, 6-0, in its final preliminary-round game of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. With the win, Team USA improved to 3-0-0-0 overall and earned Group A's top seed entering Thursday's (March 18) semifinal round.

Six different players scored for Team USA, which will face the loser of tonight's preliminary-round showdown between Canada and Norway for the right to play in the tournament's gold-medal game.

"We're continuing to improve with each passing game," said Ray Maluta, head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. "We connected on more of our prime chances tonight, and only committed a handful of mistakes."
 

japan cov 2

Team USA celebrates Greg Shaw's goal.
Photos from the game
Video: 
Josh Pauls | Steve Cash

Team USA jumped out to a 1-0 lead just one minute into the game. After receiving a pass from Tim Jones (Mt. Ephraim, N.J.) at the offensive blue line, captain Andy Yohe (Bettendorf, Iowa) skated to the top of the right circle and slid a pass to Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.) in the high slot. Page's first shot attempt failed to get through, but he collected the rebound and snapped the puck low to the far post for his first goal of the tournament.

Greg Shaw (Park City, Utah) gave Team USA a 2-0 lead late in the opening period. After intercepting a pass at the U.S. blue line, Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) broke through the neutral zone on a two-on-one rush with Shaw. When the Japanese defenseman engaged with Lipsett, he slipped a pass to Shaw, who fired a shot past the glove of Japan goaltender Mitsuru Nagase.

Five minutes into the second period, Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) notched his third goal of the tournament on the power play, cutting through traffic between the faceoff circles and scoring over Nagase's glove to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead. Lipsett collected his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament eight minutes later, holding onto the puck on a two-on-one rush and shuffling a shot past Nagase's blocker for an unassisted tally.

U.S. goalie Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) turned aside a breakaway chance by Japan's Daisuke Uehara to send Team USA into the second intermission with a 4-0 advantage. Cash made five saves in 30 minutes of action before being replaced by Mike Blabac (Buffalo, N.Y.) at the start of the third period.

Team USA extended its lead to 5-0 four minutes into the third period on the first goal of the tournament by Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.). The four-time Paralympian escaped a defender at the Japanese blue line and fired a hard wrist shot over Nagase's blocker. Nikko Landeros' (Berthoud, Colo.) first career goal five minutes later closed out the scoring.
 

 

 

written by Peter Quartuccio

You can see video of it on the internet through various websites: near the end of a sled hockey game between the United States and Canada in May of 2009, a melee erupts after American Taylor Chace crashes into Canadian goaltender Paul Rosen. The benches clear, and after the initial surge is squelched by the referees, a player in a U.S. jersey, his number not in view, lands a clean left into the mask of a Canadian player, prompting the fight’s first aftershock. It came as no surprise to those who know him that that unnumbered player turned out to be Tim Jones, an intense competitor whose flat affect belie a fighter’s heart. Indeed, from his difficult upbringing to his physical disability and emotional issues, he has been engaged in a 22-year fight to contain and ward off his manifold demons. His face and manner evince this struggle, albeit in a somewhat muted fashion. His almost ubiquitously horizontal lips and unthreatening yet stern countenance gives off an impression of distance. He rarely speaks more than two consecutive sentences, and a true laugh (not one of his single-shot scoffs that punctuate some statements) is seldom heard. In his own words, he “battles [his] emotions,” and hates “to show weakness.” But as this statement suggests, Tim Jones is far from devoid of emotion, regardless of how hard he tries to tell the world otherwise.

Tim was born with what he termed a mild case of spina bifida, a congenital birth defect in which the spinal cord protrudes through the spinal column, and often results in neurological disorders. Tim’s case was such that he could, with the help of braces and determination, walk: he has done so practically since birth. Tim was adopted by a white foster mother in a predominately white neighborhood in New Jersey called Mount Ephraim, where he found himself the object of racism at a very young age. While he experienced prejudice outside his home, inside of it was thankfully a different story. Tim credits his grandmother for the open-minded and accepting nature of his foster mother, a nurse, and her siblings, saying that she preached to her children “not to judge people by the color of their skin but how they are as a person.” Despite the absence of domestic racism, Tim’s family life was nevertheless a difficult one. His two siblings, Ryan, 21, and Patty, 30, are adopted and disabled as well, Ryan with a learning disability and Patty with mental retardation. On top of that, Tim was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at the age of 10, which roughly corresponded with his mother’s disclosure that he was adopted. His anger and frustration with this information was aided by his illness, and they manifested themselves in fits of rage that were so intense, the police had to be called on several occasions even though he never physically harmed members of his family. Instead, he took out his anger on inanimate objects, often punching through walls in his home, and, ultimately, on himself. Tim admitted that throughout much of his life, he swam against a seemingly never-ending current of anger, trying to cope with it as best he could, but often found himself powerless to prevent another outburst.

Sports represented an outlet. Through sports, he could channel his aggression and his anger onto the playing field, or in Tim’s case, the basketball court. Tim’s first love was basketball, and he played stand-up ball despite his disability for the better part of 9 years. It was during a basketball game that he caught the attention of local sled hockey coaches, one of whom was Norm Jones (no relation), who coached the New Jersey-based Wings of Steel team. Despite his initial reservations (“I thought they were crazy” was his response to their advances), Tim accepted their offer and began playing sled hockey at 12 years of age. Norm remembers, “You could tell pretty early on that he was something special,” and so to help him realize that potential Norm “worked him pretty hard.” Tim met another pivotal figure in his life during this process, Wings of Steel head coach Tom Brake. Throughout Tim’s tenure with the team, Tom would drive Tim to games and practices, and during those years grew to become a father figure of sorts. “Tom was my mentor,” Tim said, adding that he still turns to his old coach for advice today.

A natural athlete, Tim quickly translated his athletic ability from the basketball court onto the ice, and within a few years simply became too good for the team and the league in which they played. Tim moved on to playing with club teams across the nation, including one backed by the Chicago Blackhawks, and in the 2005-06 season, just 5 years after he played sled hockey for the first time, Tim became a member of the United States National team roster. There he met some of the greatest sled hockey players in the world, many of whom took Tim under their respective wings. Tim lists Joe Howard, Kip St. Germaine, and Lonnie Hannah as the most important figures during his first year with the team. He was particularly appreciative of the efforts of Hannah who, seeing Tim’s potential to be a great forward, moved himself from forward to defenseman so as to make room for Tim and make possible his growth as a player. As Hannah predicted, Tim flourished as a forward, and allowed his speed—the strongest part of his game—to shine through. Many consider him to be the fastest player on the team, meaning that he may be the fastest sled hockey player in the world.

The ice has served as a refuge for Tim, who still feels self-conscious of his disability when he is off of it, saying “I hate when people stare at me when I’m walking.” While in his sled, however, he loves being the focal point, the object of both adulation from fans and disdain from opponents. “I like to play on the edge,” Tim said, and it is clear that while speed is certainly his greatest strength, it is his toughness and intensity that defines him as a player. Unlike so many of us who suffer a drop in performance when angered, Tim seems that rare breed who is actually better when made mad, when he is feeding off the emotions that led him into so much trouble earlier in his life, channeling them onto the ice and into the game. And it is here that sled hockey has made its greatest impact on Tim’s life, for in concentrating his intensity, his aggression, his pain on the sport, he has learned to cope with his past and to deal with his emotions without having to suppress or battle against them. The rules of sled hockey required control, so by handling his emotions on the ice, he soon learned how to manage them off of it as well. “[Sled] hockey has taught me discipline,” he said, and realizes that he has become “more mature” thanks to his years of experience on the ice. In short, sled hockey made it possible for him to use his emotions, instead of merely being at the behest of them.

In saying this, it must be said that Tim still battles with his problems, but thanks to sled hockey and its cumulative effect on all aspects of his life, he seems to have his issues under control. He told me that he prays to his now-deceased grandmother in moments of indecision, so that he does not act impulsively and “do something stupid.” He recognizes his love for mother and his family, even if he doesn’t always agree with them. He said that over the past few years, he has welcomed God back into his life, a presence that he admittedly neglected during his most troubled years. This too has contributed to a more contemplative, less rash person. He is now a part-time coach with the Wings of Steel, back where it all began. If not a completely changed man, Tim is certainly a grown one. “Without hockey,” he acknowledged, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” And when asked if, after all of his troubles, trials, and tribulations, he is proud of the person he sees in the mirror nowadays, he paused, and then stated with his trademark deliberateness, “Before [hockey], I would say no. But now, yes, I am.”

For more coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.
 

 

 

 

              In what was a nasty, hit-happy game, Team USA attempted to go into their day off tomorrow with a perfect record of two wins and zero losses.  Their opponents, the Czech Republic, did everything in their power to put a blemish on that record.  The Czechs got a superb performance out of their goalie Michal Vapenka, whose efforts almost gave them the victory.  Alas, his brilliance was not enough, as his teammates had trouble getting off shots all night long, and once they got the puck near the net, U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cash ably turned their shots aside.  The Czechs fell to the Americans, 3-0, and Team USA, who still need to work out some kinks, are starting to look like the bona-fide gold medal threat they were initially slated to be.

            From the start, this looked like a different U.S. sled hockey team from yesterday.  Not even 24 hours had elapsed since their 5-0 victory against Korea, and yet today’s effort was a far more focused and consistent one.  Taylor Lipsett scored his third goal of these Paralympics halfway through the first, going coast-to-coast and putting the puck top shelf to open the game’s scoring.  Later on in the period, in what became one of their very few scoring chances, the Czechs worked their way up the ice toward the U.S. zone with a series of precise passes and graceful moves, only to be greeted rudely by a clean but vicious hit by American Defenseman Nikko Landeros, who had a very strong game despite not showing up on the stat sheet.  Alexi Salamone and Jim Connelly added goals in the second and third periods, respectively, as the shot output was consistent throughout.  The Czech Republic did not seem able to recover from Landeros’ mammoth blow, for while they did not lie down for the Americans, they mustered only six shots on goal, all of which were stopped by U.S. goalie Steve Cash, who recorded his second consecutive shutout.  Indeed, the Czechs must be sick to their collective stomachs, given that they had nothing to show for the remarkable performance put forth by Vapenka.  His play between the pipes was the best I’ve ever seen in a sled hockey game, and even though he let in three and took the loss in the process, it would be nothing short of criminal if his 20 saves—nearly all of which were of the acrobatic, spectacular kind—went overlooked.  Conversely, the U.S. players deserve credit for refusing to allow the dynamic Czech to get into their heads.  They kept the pressure on him throughout the contest, adopting a kind of gatling gun approach to the game, continuously firing shots from all angles and figuring that some were bound to find the back of the net.  They did, and Team USA prevailed.  After a day off tomorrow, the U.S. will face Japan on Tuesday, while the Czech Republic will play yesterday’s fallen foe, Korea. 

           For more coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org

 

Written by Peter Quartuccio

Photos by Carter Farmer

 

 

From USA Hockey Website:

VANCOUVER, B.C. - The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team logged its second consecutive shutout victory as it topped the Czech Republic, 3-0, here this afternoon in its second preliminary-round game of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.) notched his second straight multiple-point night with a goal and an assist, while Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) turned aside all six shots faced.

"We were able to generate chances throughout the night," said Ray Maluta, head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. "Cash came up big a couple of times to keep the Czech Republic at bay, and our pressure was consistent."

Czech cov 1

Team USA celebrated its second victory of the tournament when it beat Czech Republic on Sunday night.
Photos from the game

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period with its third power-play goal of the tournament. Following a faceoff win by Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.), Salamone dropped a pass to Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) at the blue line. His long shot was turned aside by Czech Republic goalie Michal Vapenka, but Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) collected the rebound and notched his third goal of the tournament.

Salamone gave Team USA a 2-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the second period. Starting from his own blue line, Salamone rushed through the neutral zone and weaved around a pair of Czech Republic defensemen to the right circle. His high wrist shot beat Vapenka to give the U.S. a two-goal cushion heading into the final frame.

The U.S. put the game out of reach less than four minutes into the third period. Team USA captain Andy Yohe (Bettendorf, Iowa) took a pass from Howard in the high slot and slid the puck to a waiting Jimmy Connelly (Galloway, N.J.) at the left circle. The defenseman fired a quick snap shot that beat Vapenka low.

The U.S. will secure a spot in the tournament's semifinal round later this evening should Japan register at least one point in its game against South Korea. Team USA (2-0-0-0) will next face off against Japan in both teams' third and final preliminary-round tilt Tuesday (March 16) at 5 p.m. PDT.

 

 

           The first day of Paralympic competition saw the U.S. and Korea battle against each other in two sports, wheelchair curling and sled hockey, with Team USA getting the best of the Koreans in both matchups.  First came curling, which was far from the one-sided affair the sled hockey game proved to be.  It was back and forth the entire game, with neither squad able to pull ahead by taking advantage of the other’s missed opportunities.  The most consistent player on either side was almost certainly Team USA’s vice grip James Pierce.  He was nothing short of an assassin down the stretch of the game, making throw after clutch throw.  Thanks to Pierce’s sniper accuracy, the U.S. pulled ahead 8-6 in the 7th end, and didn’t relinquish their lead despite an all-out effort by Korea in the 8th end, winning the game by a final tally of 9 to 6.

 

            Team USA and Korea faced off again, this time at the UBC Thunderbird Arena for sled hockey.  Excitement and anticipation pervaded the arena, encircling it and those within like a thick fog.  The game started with a penalty, as U.S. Forward Tim Jones was sent to the box for Interference a mere seven seconds into the game.  This was a sign of things to come, as the referees ended up calling a staggering total of eleven penalties in the contest.  This, however, did not mar the action, as both teams provided big hits and, for the most part, a high level of play for the majority of the game.  American Defenseman Taylor Chace got the scoring started for the U.S., scoring a first period goal three minutes and forty-five seconds into the match.  He got help from teammates Alexi Salamone and Taylor Lipsett, both of whom scored power play goals in the second period.  Team USA, however, essentially sleepwalked through the third period, making sloppy, lackadaisical passes and committing a whopping two Too Many Players on the Ice penalties in a matter of minutes.  They nevertheless were able to close out the victory thanks to the Taylors Chace and Lipsett, who each scored their second goals of the game in the third.  Despite the aggressive style of the Americans, Korea never seemed to fold under the intense pressure put on them by Team USA, and they deserve credit for not cowering before their immensely talented opponents.  The U.S. was victorious 5-0 before an overwhelmingly pro-Korean crowd, something that is to be expected given the rivalry between Team USA and the Canadians. This is something the U.S. Olympians had to contend with last month, and it is a trend that will surely continue through the Paralympics as well.  Team USA better get used to it.

 

            For more coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org


Written by Peter Quartuccio

Photos by Carter Farmer

 

 

      

 
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