Lindenwood University student Josh Pauls returned to St. Louis yesterday after he and his United States Sled Hockey teammates defeated Russia 1-0 on March 15 to win the gold medal at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Americans are the first team in Paralympic history to repeat as consecutive gold medalists, having won gold at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.
U.S. forward Josh Sweeney scored the only goal of the game during the second period. The U.S. defense allowed just six shots, and goaltender Steve Cash made two key saves in the third period. Cash later carried the American flag in the Closing Ceremony, which took place on Sunday, March 16.
Pauls, a power forward on the US team, was born without tibia bones in both legs. At 10 months old, both of his legs were amputated.
“I was so young, it really didn’t matter,” he says. “When I learned to walk, I learned on prosthetics.”
His mother introduced him to sled hockey as a child growing up in New Jersey, but Pauls didn’t initially take to the sport. He tried to play again a few years later, but this time without the use of his prosthetics.
“I love hockey, and after I took the legs off it dawned on me that this was the way I’d be able to play the sport,” he said. “I was all about it after that.”
Pauls and his teammates were featured in a PBS documentary called Ice Warriors, which premiered in February on KETC. It will be updated to capture the team’s victory. To learn more about the film, visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/medal-quest/ice-warriors/.
To learn more about the sport of sled hockey, visit the U.S. Paralympics website.
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