The U.S. became the first nation to repeat as Paralympic sledge hockey champion, beating Russia 1-0 in the gold-medal game in Sochi on Saturday.
Josh Sweeney scored the only goal in the second period. Sweeney, 26, is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant and a Purple Heart recipient.
“I saw the defender, and he had the puck and I just went after him and I got the puck from him and took it down and did a little fake because that’s what you want to do when you’re going up against a goalie that good and just put it in the net,” Sweeney said in a press release. “It wasn’t anything that any of my other teammates couldn’t have done, I just did it.”
Goalie Steve Cash posted the six-save shutout, four days after his Paralympic shutout streak of some 313 minutes was snapped by Russia in a 2-1 loss for the Americans in group play.
Cash, 24, was named the U.S. flag bearer for Sunday’s Closing Ceremony on Friday.
Russia performed well for the tournament, winning a silver medal in its first Paralympic sledge hockey appearance.
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Russian goalie Vladimir Kamantcev said. “We played well. It’s a dignified finish for Russia and for ourselves. We showed a good game, a battle, intellect, will and character.”
Also Saturday, Canada beat Russia 8-3 for the wheelchair curling gold.
Russia leads the medal table with 70 total and 27 golds. The next best nations have 21 medals and seven golds. The U.S. has 17 medals and two golds with one day of competition left in Sochi.
Ukraine Paralympians cover medals during Russian anthem
The penultimate day of the Paralympics includes two cross-country skiing relays, the 4×2.5km mixed relay and the 4x.2.5 km open relay.
Russia has dominated cross-country skiing over the past week, winning 20 medals and seven golds. No other nation has won more than five medals or two golds.
Also Saturday, two-time 2014 Paralympic silver medalist Mark Bathum goes for another medal in the visually impaired giant slalom and super combined silver medalist Heath Calhoun competes in the sitting giant slalom.
Later, the U.S. sledge hockey team plays Russia in the gold-medal game at noon ET on NBC (preview here) and medals will be decided in curling bronze- and gold-medal games.
Cross-country skiing, 3:30 a.m. ET – CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Paralympic broadcast schedule
The marquee event of the Sochi Paralympics is set for Saturday.
The U.S. and Russia will face off in the sledge hockey gold-medal game at Shayba Arena, a rematch of a 2-1 Russian victory in group play four days before. It will be televised live Saturday at noon ET on NBC and streamed at teamusa.org.
Russia had shocked the U.S. on Tuesday, snapping the Americans’ eight-game Paralympic winning streak dating to 2006 and goalie Steve Cash‘s shutout streak at some 313 minutes.
“We came into this tournament with high hopes, and going into Saturday’s game against Russia, we believe strongly that we can accomplish that goal of winning a gold medal,” U.S. forward and Army veteran Rico Roman said in his blog. “They got us on Tuesday, but we’re coming back strong.”
The U.S. is the defending Paralympic champion. Russia made it to the final in its Paralympic sledge hockey debut.
“Four years ago, when the guys got into the sledge, when they had the sticks and pucks in their hands, it was [captain] Vadim Selyukin who told me, ‘We will do everything we can. We will play at our best and be very hard-working guys,'” Russian coach Sergey Samoylov said in a press release. “He told me, ‘We will compete at the Winter Paralympics, not just as hosts, we are going to do much more. We are going to win. We are going to win a medal.'”
Paralympic broadcast schedule