What's buzzing:

US beats Russia in Sochi Paralympics hockey final

AP - Sports
US beats Russia in Sochi Paralympics hockey final
.

View gallery

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Lining up on the Sochi ice to receive their gold medals, the American ice sledge hockey team anticipated abuse from the Russian crowd.

It never came. Just cheers and applause.

However serious the Ukraine-related tensions between the U.S. and Russia are in the backdrop of these Winter Paralympics, they weren't evident in the Shayba Arena on Saturday.

Not even after Russia was denied the ice sledge hockey gold in the final by the Americans, who sent no official delegation to Sochi in a protest against Moscow's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

''When they announced us as the gold medal I was really surprised that the crowd cheered,'' U.S. forward Josh Sweeney said.

It was Sweeney's goal in the second period that retained the Paralympic title for the U.S., ensuring it was ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' playing later in the near-7,000 capacity arena as the team embraced on the ice.

''We all came together and trusted each other, and that's what got it done at the end,'' defenseman Taylor Chase said.

''Sweeney played out of his mind. He has done that the whole tournament and worked so hard that it spreads throughout the whole team.''

The U.S. match-winning moment came in the 25th minute after Sweeney intercepted a mistake by defenseman Alexei Lysov. The former U.S. Marine swept forward before raising the puck past goaltender Vladimir Kamantcev.

''I got it from that defender and I was a little surprised to be able to have a breakaway in the gold medal match,'' Sweeney said. ''I just got fortunate.''

It briefly silenced the home crowd's chants just days after they were celebrating a preliminary round victory over the U.S.

''Today was our chance and it is unknown when we'll be in the Paralympics final again and whether we'll get there at all,'' said Russian player Vadim Selyukin, who took up the sport after being injured in an explosion in Tajikistan while in the Russian army.

An explosion also put Sweeney on a path to the Paralympics. It's less than five years since he lost his legs and left arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Now Sweeney, an able-bodied hockey player in high school, has a sporting medal to join the military honor awarded for his courage and bravery.

''Purple Hearts are normally awarded after being injured in the line of duty after a lot of work, so it's a little upsetting,'' Sweeney said. ''I didn't have to get injured to win a gold medal.''

Sweeney's team succeeded where the U.S. men fell short in the Sochi Olympics last month. The men didn't make the podium, although the women's team was second.

Saturday's final gave disability sport its biggest platform yet in the U.S., with NBC making a late change to its schedules to show its first live action from the Paralympics.

''I never thought that would happen,'' Sweeney said. ''I never knew about Paralympics growing up, and hopefully what this will do is get more kids and more adults into sled hockey so we can grow this sport to be a household sport.''

The TV exposure enabled Sweeney to show his fellow Marines there was life after being injured in the line of duty.

''It's awesome they can see me doing something amazing,'' he said. ''When I was injured they all took it really hard, so it's nice for them to see my life isn't over.''

Far from it.

---

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

View Comments (0)
  • Olympics-Badminton joins SportAccord exodus over IOC attack

    Badminton has severed ties with SportAccord, adding its name to a fast-growing exodus of sports abandoning the umbrella organisation following a scathing attack by its chief on the International Olympic Committee (IOC). "The Badminton World … More »

    Reuters - 6 minutes ago
  • Games-Profile of the Southeast Asian Games

    Factbox on the Southeast Asian Games, to be held in Singapore from June 5-16. - - - * The Southeast Asian Games, commonly known as the SEA Games, is a biennial multi-sports event involving competitors from 11 countries. * It was first held in … More »

    Reuters - 31 minutes ago
  • Games-Southeast Asian Games showcase region's rapid growth

    By Julian Linden SINGAPORE, May 25 (Reuters) - The 28th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) begins in Singapore next week, an event that promises to showcase the region's spectacular economic growth as much as the athletes and their competitions. … More »

    Reuters - 31 minutes ago
  • PGA champion An says more Asians should try European Tour

    By Tony Jimenez VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - South Korean An Byeong Hun urged more Asian golfers to try their luck on the European Tour following his outstanding six-shot win in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The 23-year-old is in … More »

    Reuters - 38 minutes ago
  • Monaco will make Hamilton stronger, says Hakkinen

    Monaco will make Hamilton stronger, says Hakkinen

    By Alan Baldwin MONACO (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton can turn Monaco misery into a Canadian celebration because every setback makes you stronger, according to retired double world champion Mika Hakkinen. "You have to learn and analyse everything that … More »

    Reuters - 41 minutes ago