Sure, us American sports fans with our pride and patriotism could still be bitter about Team USA not winning a medal in men’s hockey and allowing Canada to take home the gold for both the fellas and the women. Or we could do what we always do best and ignore the larger picture for the symbolic victories, like TJ Oshie’s incredible shootout performance that helped Team USA defeat Russia in the real gold medal match. U-S-A! U-S-A!
But there’s no need to do that this time, because Team USA did bring home the gold in men’s hockey, as the American ice sledge hockey team defeated the Russian men 1-0 for top honors at the 2014 Paralympics, thanks to a goal by U.S. Marine and Purple Heart recipient Josh Sweeney, who probably deserves a few hundred victory parties when he gets home. Sweeney lost his legs after he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan almost five years ago, but today he’s excited to be the star of the Paralympics for Team USA and a role model, as NBC even made yesterday’s gold medal game the first live action that it has aired during the 2014 Sochi 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.” (Via the AP)
The Russians had been the only team to defeat Team USA at the Paralympics, as the bad guys from most 80s movies won the first matchup in the preliminary round, but as Sweeney and Co. know, there are no gold medals for winning a preliminary game.
Now, in case you’re wondering if there’s any excitement in ice sledge hockey, like hard hits and even harder hits, the people at the Paralympic Games made a little video to let everyone know what they missed out on if they didn’t watch this year.