I have been invited to hand out medals at the 2008 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships on April 5 in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The event, which is being hosted in the United States for the first time, will be held at the New England Sports Center.
Opening ceremonies were held Thursday, March 27, at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston prior to the National Hockey League game between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Norway will join the United States in Pool A of the event, while the Czech Republic, the South Korea, Estonia and Poland will make up Pool B.
The 15-member U.S. National Sled Hockey Team encompasses players from eight states. Chris Manns (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), who will serve as team captain, is the lone two-time Paralympian on the squad. He helped Team USA to its first-ever Paralympic gold medal at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The squad includes nine players from the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team that earned the bronze medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, including goaltender Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.), defensemen Jimmy Connelly (Galloway, N.J.), Mike Hallman (Hatboro, N.J.), Tim Jones (Mt. Ephraim, N.J.), and Manns, and forwards Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.), Brad Emmerson (Amherst, N.Y.), Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas) and Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.).
“We are looking forward to representing our country on our own soil,” said Dan Brennan, general manager of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. “Outside of the Paralympics, this is the largest event in the sport. The players are excited for the opportunity to prove themselves on the international stage.”
Ray Maluta (Rochester, N.Y.) will serve as the head coach of the squad, while Bill Corbo, Jr. (Merrimack, N.H.) is the team's assistant coach.