Steve Cash, perhaps the most decorated athlete in the history of sled hockey (also known as sledge or Para ice hockey), announced his retirement Monday.
The announcement comes just over four months before the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, which would have marked his fifth Paralympic Games.
The 32-year-old goaltender is tied (with teammates Nikko Landeros, Adam Page, Josh Pauls) for the most Paralympic gold medals with three, and has a U.S.-record eight world championship appearances. The U.S. won the World Sled Hockey Challenge eight times in Cash’s 13 tournaments.
In his 13-year span of those eight worlds, Cash stopped the U.S. to an unmatched five world titles, two silver medals and one bronze.
“It has been quite the journey and an honor to represent my country,” Cash in a USA Hockey release. “I want to thank all of teammates throughout the years along with the supporters I have gained along the way. You guys have made the journey what it is.”
Cash and the U.S. team earned bronze in his 2006 Paralympic debut, before beginning a reign of dominance that produced three gold medals from 2010 to 2018. He also took bronze at his first worlds in 2008, with the golds coming in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2019 and earlier this year; the Americans settled for silver to longtime rival Canada in 2013 and 2017.
One of the faces of the U.S. team, his 16 years in the net for the national team produced 119 wins in 159 games.
He earned an ESPY in 2010 and was named Paralympic SportsMan of the Year in 2009 by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
“It’s not often that you meet someone as talented and as humble as Steve Cash,” USA Hockey director of sled national teams Dan Brennan said in the release. “Steve has had an amazing career with the national team. He’s a great hockey player, but an even better human being. He has been the foundation of this team for 16 years now and it has been an absolute privilege to work with him all this time. I wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.”
The U.S. will aim for a fourth straight Paralympic gold medal in March, likely with 35-year-old Jen Lee in net. The former U.S. Army sergeant was on the past two Paralympic teams and four world teams since 2013.
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