PyeongChang 2018: Team USA Defeats Canada for a Three-peat Gold Medal in Sled Hockey
With so many electrifying moments during the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games March 9-18 in PyeongChang, South Korea, it may be hard to pick a favorite, but Team USA's sled hockey overtime win over Canada to earn its third straight gold medal will certainly rank near the top.
Team USA didn't score until there were less than 40 seconds remaining in regulation play—forcing a sudden-death tie-breaker overtime period. After playing more than three minutes in overtime, 20-year-old Declan Farmer, playing in his second Paralympic games, sliced the puck between two Canadian defenders and into the net to give the Americans their record-extending third consecutive and fourth overall Paralympic title in Para ice hockey with a 2-1 victory. The victory was bittersweet for the Americans, who had played throughout the games in honor of their late coach Jeff Sauer, who passed away in 2017 of pancreatic cancer.
Team USA goaltender Steve Cash, now a three-time Paralympic champion and four-time Paralympic medalist, ended the tournament with only a single goal conceded. "I'm still dreaming at this point. It's going to take a little bit to sink in," Cash said on the Paralympic website. "The key to being a goaltender in that position of being down is to just hit the reset button when they scored. A bounce went their way, and those things happen, but you can't let those get you down."
According to the International Paralympic web-site, there were 241 medals awarded during the games. Team USA's gold medal win in sled hockey on the last day of competition brought the United States' medal count to 36, including 13 gold, 15 silver, and eight bronze medals. Five of those gold medals came from snowboarding events, and Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch brought in four titles in Nordic skiing. Masters was elected by her teammates to carry the U.S. flag during closing ceremonies. "I was truly blown away [that] my own teammates voted for me as the closing ceremony flag bearer," Masters said on the Paralympic website.
The 2018 Winter Games wouldn't have been complete without a host-nation hero: Para Nordic skier Eui Hyun Sin became South Korea's lone gold medalist when he won the men's 7.5k sitting cross-country skiing race with a time of 22 minutes, 28.4 seconds. It was the first time South Korea took gold at the Winter Paralympic Games since the country made its debut at Albertville, Canada, in 1992. Daniel Cnossen of the United States took second with a time of 22 minutes, 33.7 seconds, followed by Maksym Yarovyi of Ukraine with a time of 22 minutes, 39.9 seconds.
A South Korean goaltender and a U.S. snowboarder took home medals while making their Paralympic debut in PyeongChang. As one of Team USA's most high-profile winter athletes, snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, 22, did not disappoint during competition, adding gold medals to her World Championship titles in snowboarding as well as cross country and banked slalom skiing. Lae-Woong Lee, of South Korea, was the starting goaltender for his sled hockey team on three occasions and recorded one shutout performance and 38 saves. South Korea went on to defeat Italy for the bronze medal for its first Paralympic medal in the sport.
Canada was second in the medal count, earning 28 total medals, including eight gold. The Neutral Paralympic Athletes, Russian athletes allowed to compete despite their country's suspension from the Games, came in third with 24 medals earned, including eight gold. Ukraine earned 22 medals, including seven gold medals, to take the fourth spot, and France came in fifth with 20 medals won, including seven golds to round out the top five Paralympic medal winners.