Hockey Heaven Goes International Again

Stop by the Harbor Center for some amazing hockey.  Photo from paralympic.org

Stop by the Harbor Center for some amazing hockey. Photo from paralympic.org

The city of Buffalo has once again become the focus of the international hockey world. After ringing in the new year with a successful Women’s U18 World Championship, in which we watched Team USA bring home the gold medal, the 2015 IPC Sled Hockey World Championship kicked off on Sunday. There was a lot of excitement heading into the tournament as Labatt USA, headquartered here in Buffalo, announced an expanded partnership with Team USA, promoting a campaign to raise an additional $250,000, as well as initiating 10 new sled hockey programs throughout the US.

The teams certainly put on a show to begin the tournament, as fans were treated to high-scoring affairs on the first day of action – each of the teams took the ice as they began group play. Team USA delivered a 6-1 drubbing of Russia, but Team Canada had the most impressive win of the afternoon, taking down Japan 17-1. Monday, it was Team USA’s turn to impress, with a 7-0 shutout of Germany, while Canada took it to Norway, winning 5-0. Players will get a day of rest Tuesday before returning to the ice on Wednesday.

Cash snags a rising shot headed for the cookie jar.  Photo from buffalonews.com

Cash snags a rising shot headed for the cookie jar. Photo from buffalonews.com

Team USA is the favorite coming into the tournament, backstopped by a man who many say is the best goaltender in all of Sled Hockey. Steve Cash comes to Buffalo with a goals against average of just 1.22, and allowed only one goal against Russia in Sunday’s opener. The humble goalie gives credit to his team, saying, “They play great in front of me, and that’s all I can ask for. At the same time I tried to return the favor by making the saves necessary.” In addition to strong netminding, Team USA is home to veteran Josh Sweeney, who has contributed to the success of the team for some time. Sweeney is leader both on and off the ice, providing a stable captain for the young players on the team, and adding skilled scoring during gameplay. Sweeney is enjoying the tournament in Buffalo so far, saying, ““If anything I think this was better than the Paralympics, even though it was on a slightly smaller stage, because it was in front of a home crowd and everyone is cheering for you. Having the whole place go crazy when you score a goal was amazing.”

The benefits of such a tournament taking place in Buffalo are evident in every aspect of the experience so far. Not only is Buffalo home to one of the team’s biggest sponsors, but the city itself is hockey-hungry, starved on the meager 2014-2015 Sabres campaign and anxious to be cheering for a good team again. Team USA’s Adam Page hails from Lancaster, NY – a suburb of Buffalo, and Page was chosen to captain one of the teams for the skills competition, giving the hometown crowd a little something extra to cheer for. With Team USA and Team Canada heading Groups A and B, respectively, it appears we will likely see a border battle for the gold medal, and with Canada a mere stone’s through from the Harbor Center, there will no doubt be a sellout crowd to cheer these incredible athletes.

It would appear a border skirmish is about to ignite! Photo from cbc.com

It would appear a border skirmish is about to ignite! Photo from cbc.com

Tickets are available for the group play games, as well as the semi-finals and medal rounds, and while games will also be shown on NBC and affiliated stations, there is nothing like being a part the crowd for such an illustrious tournament. Be sure to come down to hockey’s new mecca and raise your banner as Team USA takes on the world.

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  1. Hitchcock mum on future; Rutherford praises Johnston; Berube talks firing (Puck Headlines) | News Public - April 28, 2015

    […] • Buffalo has gone international as hockey heaven with the sled hockey tournament. [What’s Going on in Buffalo] […]

  2. Hitchcock mum on future; Rutherford praises Johnston; Berube talks firing (Puck Headlines) | Wolrd Blogs - April 29, 2015

    […] • Buffalo has gone international as hockey heaven with the sled hockey tournament. [What’s Going on in Buffalo] […]

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