Any Jet Lag is Lost as Team USA Defeats Italy in Sled Hockey

Photo by Katherine Harris
Photo by Katherine Harris

By Mike Doyle

The appearance that Team USA had been affected by travel disappeared between the warm-ups and game time. The crowd rallied every time Team Italy moved the puck even close to the red line and became even more raucous any time the Italians controlled play inside the USA end.

The first period started with some quality chances from both teams. Italy continued showing good team defense and USA showed they could fore-check against the structured get-out. First trip to the penalty box was ITA #14 Bruno Balossetti for holding less than 3-minutes into the game. USA dominated during the resulting power play until USA #9 Andy Yohe (Bettendorf IA) also got caught holding an opponent just as the United States power play was expiring. The period continued pitting Team USA speed and fore-checking against the Italian methodical defense. Persistence paid dividends for USA at the 13:45 mark when newcomer #6 Declan Farmer (Tampa FL) scored with a little help from #19 Taylor Chase (Hampton Falls NH) passing from the point to #15 Nikko Landeros (Johnstown CO), who performed a “spin-o-ramma” pass to the aforementioned Farmer who shoveled it in from the low slot. First period statistics included one minor penalty for Team USA three for ITA; shots on goal were six for the former and five for the latter.

Period two started with USA #15 trying to leave the ice early; Landeros was checked into the USA bench door which was not properly closed. A dangerous situation without any serious consequences. At the 16:32 mark (1-minute, 32-seconds into the second stanza) Italy was caught with too many men on the ice – six men (and six legs) out on the ice. They were able to weather the storm and burned off the penalty by icing the puck several times. Team USA #23 Rico Roman (Portland OR) was sent to the “sin bin” exactly two minutes after the Team Italy penalty expired. By this time Italy was looking a little spent and Team USA was able to control play, albeit a man down. Exactly four minutes after the Roman penalty expired Team USA uncorked a second goal. Tally was credited to the other newcomer, Brody Roybal (Northlake IL) and assisted by Farmer. Italy finished the second period a man down after #69 Giuseppe Condello was called for “teeing”.

Third period start found #19 Chase in the box for “teeing” as he was stopping a breakaway. Back to some five-on-five hockey and Team USA was relieved to get a third period marker just over three minutes in from #13 Josh Sweeney (Phoenix AZ) who had some help from the Italian defenseman. Team USA put the match out-of-touch for Italy with just under 10-minutes left Roybal netted his second in two periods with some help from #27 Josh Pauls (Green Brook NJ) and Landeros. USA called a time out to relieve #34 Steve Cash (Overland, MO) from his perfect 15-shot save performance and give back-up netminder #1 Jen Lee (San Francisco CA) some between-the-pipes time. USA was able to fend off a late Italian assault while killing off #28 Paul Schaus (Buffalo NY) roughing minor at 41:28 (11-minute, 28-seconds into the third period). Just four seconds later ITA completed the assault by beating net minder Lee after a defensive zone breakdown lead to an unassisted goal by #6 Gianluca Calvaliere. With only five-seconds left Schaus was able to regain the four point advantage assisted by Landeros.

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