Team USA took home the gold in women’s sled hockey on Sunday, beating Team Canada 2-0 to win the second Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge. The Americans won all four of their games in the tournament to defend their 2022 title.
“I’m ecstatic about the way that we played this game going undefeated and not allowing any goals on net,” said defender Lera Doederlein, who led the tournament with eight points (3g, 5a). “This is a chance for us to show the next generation across the country and the world that Para ice hockey is here to stay and here to grow.”
After a scoreless first period, Team USA capitalized on a delayed penalty call in the second. Captain Kelsey DiClaudio snuck the puck past several of the Canadians for what would become the gold-medal-winning-goal.
🚨 USA OPEN THE SCORING!
— #ParaIceHockey #WomensWorldChallenge (@paraicehockey) September 3, 2023
In the third, Doederlin scored a breakaway goal for the insurance marker, while goaltender Hope Bevilhymer recorded a shutout to end the game 2-0.
There was plenty of animosity between the rival nations in the gold-medal game, with a total of seven penalties called.
“It was a classic Canada versus USA rivalry,” said Doederlin. “The teams were really chippy and had a lot of a lot of energy between the two which made for a really good matchup.”
This year’s Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge took place at the Cornerstone Community Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The tournament saw more than 60 players compete on four teams: Team USA, Team Canada, Team Great Britain, and Team World. Team World featured players from 11 different countries who could not fill a full roster on their own.
All games in the tournament were livestreamed on the Paralympics’ YouTube channel, where they remain available to watch.
Para hockey is technically a mixed sport at the Paralympics, but only three women have ever competed at the Games. One of the three, Lena Schroeder, competed in Green Bay for Team World.
Tournament organizers hope that the World Challenge can pave the way for increased women’s participation in sled hockey and eventual inclusion as an event in the Paralympics. The next step is establishing a World Championship in 2025.
With the future of the sport on the line, victory is even sweeter.
“It is hard to top the first win at the World Challenge, but the energy from the start to the finish here this year was incredible,” said DiClaudio. “Whether it be a camp, World Challenge or World Championships, we are always going to be here knowing that we are fighting for a spot to grow this game.”
Screenshot: Paralympic Games/YouTube
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