Thursday, March 18, 2010

USA Hockey Paralympic Sled Team advances, Mercyhurst unanimous #1 in Women's college poll










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."

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.

NOTES: If Norway defeats Canada later this evening, Team USA will face Canada on Thursday (March 18) at 12 p.m. PDT. If Canada beats Norway, the U.S. will take on Norway at 7 p.m. PDT on Thursday ... Team USA went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Japan was 0-for-4 with the man advantage ... In seven meetings with Japan during the 2009-10 season, Team USA posted a perfect 7-0-0-0 record, outscoring Japan, 29-2, in those games ... In earlier action, the Czech Republic knocked off South Korea, 4-2, while Sweden edged Italy, 1-0 ... The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team captured the bronze medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and earned gold at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah ... No team has won gold more than once in the four Paralympic Winter Games of which sled hockey has been a part (Sweden-1994; Norway-1998; United States-2002; Canada-2006) ... Full coverage of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, including a team roster, photos, features, and game notes are available at usahockey.com … The 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, consisting of 15 of the 18 members of the 2009-10 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, was named in December.

GAME SUMMARY

Scoring By Period

JPN 0 - 0 - 0 - 0
USA 2 - 2 - 2 - 6

First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Page (Yohe, Jones), 1:05; 2, USA, Shaw (Lipsett), 12:01. Penalties: USA, Page (hooking), 6:01; USA, Chace (elbowing), 13:31.

Second Period - Scoring: 3, USA, Salamone (Yohe), 5:13 (pp); 4, USA, Lipsett (unassisted), 13:22. Penalties: JPN, Ishida (hooking), 3:57; USA, Lipsett (charging), 6:27; JPN, Sudo (holding), 6:36; JPN, Ishida (holding), 7:23.

Third Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Howard (Chace), 4:10; 6, USA, Landeros (unassisted), 8:54. Penalties: USA, Jones (interference), 5:54.

Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
JPN 4 1 1 6
USA 6 7 6 19

Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
JPN, Nagase 34:10 6-4 7-5 2-1 15-10
JPN, Fukushima 10:50 -- -- 4-3 4-3
USA, Cash 30:00 4-4 1-1 -- 5-5
USA, Blabac 15:00 -- -- 1-1 1-1


Power Play: JPN 0-4; USA 1-4
Penalties: JPN 3-6; USA 4-8
Officials: Petter Vojan Hegle (referee); Lodewijk Beelen (linesman), Eric Dagenais (linesman)
Attendance: 5,468


Team USA 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Schedule
March 13-20 - Vancouver, B.C.


Date Opponent Time (PDT)/Result Broadcast
Sat., March 13 South Korea W, 5-0
Sun., March 14 Czech Republic W, 3-0
Tues., March 16 Japan W, 6-0 ParalmpicSport.tv
Thurs., March 18 Semifinals 12 p.m. / 7 p.m. ParalmpicSport.tv

Fri., March 19 Bronze-Medal Game 7 p.m. ParalmpicSport.tv
Sat., March 20 Gold-Medal Game 12 p.m. ParalmpicSport.tv

************************************************

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Mercyhurst College, which defeated No. 8 Boston University in the NCAA tournament quarterfinal round last weekend, enters the NCAA Women's Frozen Four as the unanimous No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women's College Hockey Poll. The Lakers, who hold the top spot for the 22nd straight poll, accumulated 190 points and all 19 first-place votes.

2010 NCAA Women's
Frozen Four
Friday, March 19
No. 1 Mercyhurst
vs.
No. 4 Cornell

No. 2 Minnesota Duluth
vs.
No. 3 Minnesota

Sunday, March 21
NCAA Championship Game



The University of Minnesota Duluth (171) is No. 2 after defeating No. 7 University of New Hampshire in the NCAA tournament, while the University of Minnesota (150), which topped No. 6 Clarkson University, retains the No. 3 spot. Cornell University (135), which advanced to its first NCAA Women's Frozen Four in school history after defeating No. 5 Harvard University, climbs to No. 4.

The NCAA Women's Frozen Four takes place this weekend at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn., with No. 1 Mercyhurst playing No. 4 Cornell and No. 2 Minnesota Duluth facing off against No. 3 Minnesota on Friday (March 19). The winners of the two semifinal games will play on Sunday (March 21) for the NCAA championship.

NOTES: The last USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women’s College Hockey Poll of the 2009-10 season will be on Tuesday (March 23) ... The 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey, will be awarded for the 13th time at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center on Saturday (March 20). The top three finalists include Vicki Bendus (Wasaga Beach, Ont./Mercyhurst College), Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ont./Univ. of New Hampshire) and Noora R├Ąty (Espoo, Finland/Univ. of Minnesota). More information on the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award can be found at PattyKaz.com ... Hockey East boasts four ranked programs. ECAC Hockey has three ranked teams, while the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has two ranked programs. Mercyhurst is the only ranked College Hockey America team ... A total of 14 teams received votes.

ABOUT THE POLL: The 13th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the four NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine
Women's College Hockey Poll - #23
(first-place votes in parentheses)

Rank School Last Poll's Ranking 2009-10 Record Weeks in Top 10
1 Mercyhurst College, 190 (19) 1 30-2-3 23
2 University of Minnesota Duluth, 171 2 29-8-2 23
3 University of Minnesota, 150 3 26-8-5 23
4 Cornell University, 135 5 20-8-6 14
5 Harvard University, 97 4 20-8-5 22
6 Clarkson University, 92 6 23-12-5 22
7 University of New Hampshire, 86 7 19-9-5 23
8 Boston University, 63 8 17-9-12 12
9 University of Connecticut, 24 9 21-9-7 10
10 Northeastern University, 16 NR 17-9-7 16

Others receiving votes: The Ohio State University, 8; Providence College, 7; Quinnipiac University, 4; St. Cloud State University, 2.

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