Team USA Has Seoul (4/18/13)

BY TAYLOR LIPSETT

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Team USA wearing purple in honor of the victims in Boston

Insadong Market

Traditional Korean BBQ

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Team USA arrived in Seoul, South Korea on April 9 for the 2013 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships. After the 13.5-hour plane ride, and the 14-hour time difference for those of us on Central Daylight Time, we were definitely glad we had a few days to practice and get acclimated to life in Seoul. After three practices and some time spent sightseeing around the hotel, we were definitely ready to get down to business and start playing hockey.

We started out the week on Saturday against Sweden, and we came out ready to go. Taylor Chace started the scoring with two goals in the final minute of the first period to get Team USA going. The second period turned out to be the world’s introduction to our 15-year-old superstar in the making, Declan Farmer, when he scored twice in a 10-minute span. We were on a roll now, and tacked on three more goals from Paul Schaus, Nikko Landeros and Kevin McKee to finish off the 7-0 win.

With a lot of confidence from the day before, we went into Sunday’s game against Norway with one thing on our minds… win! Team USA forward Josh Pauls had that and more in store for the Norwegians. Taylor Chace and Declan Farmer both scored in the opening period to give USA the lead before Josh Pauls went off in the second. In a span of less than 10 minutes, Pauls scored four consecutive goals to give Team USA a commanding 6-0 lead going into the third. Taylor Chace added a second goal to cap off another 7-0 win.

After two dominating performances, we had a much-needed day off. Members of Team USA finally got to venture out and see some of the great things the city of Seoul has to offer! Steve Cash, his girlfriend, my wife and I went to the Insadong Market, which had a number of stores the sold various souvenirs. Other players got to check out local temples and palaces, as well as the South Korean Tower, which is the highest point in Korea where tourists can purchase locks to lock on to a fence with a personal message, much like the famous bridge in Paris. For dinner everyone had the chance to try out the legendary Korean BBQ, where everything is cooked on a grill in the middle of the table. And without a doubt, it lived up to the expectation!

After the day off, it was back to business on Tuesday, with a much-anticipated match-up against the undefeated Czechs. Czech is a fairly physical team with a good goaltender, so we knew we had to bring our A game.  After the horrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon, Team USA showed our support by many players wearing purple, as well as observing a moment of silence before the start of the game. We were very confident coming into the game, and asked more players to step up and take charge on their lines to keep the momentum going, and that’s exactly what we did. In a hard-fought match, each line on Team USA put the puck in the net, and Steve Cash and Jen Lee, who have split time in each of the first three games, backstopped us to a 3-0 win.

The victory put us at the top of our pool, and set us up against Russia in the semi-final game on Thursday. While Russia has not been on the sled hockey scene for long, they are an extremely tough opponent. We beat them 2-1 to advance to the gold medal game against Canada.

With four games down, one to go and our destiny in our own hands, Team USA is focused on beating Canada for a third consecutive world title. No team has ever went back-to-back-to-back before. We’d like to be the first. We are playing great team hockey right now, and look to keep the momentum going. 

Don’t forget to stay up to date by following Team USA at sledworlds.usahockey.com!