Jack Wallace, Declan Farmer Lead U.S. Sled Hockey Team To 9-1 Win Against South Korea
by Scott Charles
(L-R) Josh Pauls, Jack Wallace and Joshua Misiewicz react in the second period during the Group A preliminary round against South Korea at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 6, 2022 in Beijing.
A five-goal first period, including a hat trick from Jack Wallace, propelled the U.S. sled hockey team to a 9-1 victory against South Korea at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Declan Farmer added five points (2 goals, 3 assists), Malik Jones also scored twice and Team USA earned a spot in the semifinal after securing the top spot in Group A with its second consecutive victory in the preliminary round. Joshua Misiewicz and Brody Roybal also lit the lamp for the U.S.
Evan Nichols, the youngest player on the U.S. roster at 17 years old, recorded three assists in his Paralympic debut after being scratched for the opening game against Canada. Captain Josh Pauls also recorded three assists.
"To have a team with this many good players on it’s a privilege to play (on),” Wallace said. “The selflessness that has to come with that, to be willing to relinquish some of your ice time to make sure everyone is getting as much ice time as possible, everyone on this team has bought into that."
Wallace completed his first-period hat trick with a rising shot from the slot shortly after the first U.S. power play expired at 13:53 to give the U.S. a 5-0 advantage.
The 23-year-old defenseman also scored the first two goals of the game in a span of 4:33. Wallace opened the scoring with a snipe from the left face-off circle that rang off the post before finding the back of the net. Misiewicz set up the game’s first goal with a beautiful cross-ice pass to set up his teammate.
Wallace doubled the United States' lead as the New Jersey native glided across the slot and roofed a wrist shot at 8:58 of the first period. Travis Dodson assisted on the play.
“I love how tenacious this team is,” head coach David Hoff said. “The first few minutes may not have been as dominant as we expected, but this team just won’t let off. They always stick with it until things start clicking on our end and we definitely saw that today.”
Griffin LaMarre also made his tournament debut when he replaced Jen Lee between the pipes to start the third period.
Declan Farmer shoots in the second period during the Group A preliminary round against South Korea at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 6, 2022 in Beijing.
Farmer tallied back-to-back power-play goals in a stretch of 1:36 in the latter half of the second period to extend the U.S. advantage to eight goals. The U.S. all-time Paralympic points leader converted a nifty wraparound and wired a shot from the slot to push his career points total to 31.
Jones pushed the U.S. lead to nine when he buried a rebound with 13 seconds remaining in the second stanza. The 19-year-old has three goals in his first Paralympics and is one of three players (LaMarre, Nichols) on the U.S. roster participating in their first international competition.
“To get to this level has been my dream since I was seven years old,” Jones said. “Just to play at this level and with all these guys means a lot."
Misiewicz collected his second point of the first period at 9:43 as the U.S. took a 3-0 lead. Farmer found Misiewicz all alone at the top of the crease to set up the goal and Nichols picked up the secondary assist.
Roybal also scored during an offensive explosion in the first period. The three-time Paralympian controlled a loose puck in front and made a nifty move at the top of the crease to extend the U.S. lead to four.
The U.S. did not allow a shot on goal in the opening period.
Pauls became the all-time leader in Paralympic appearances after playing in his 17th career game Sunday, surpassing Joe Howard. Pauls has been a part of three gold medal teams (2010, 2014, 2018) and is searching for his fourth with Team USA in Beijing.
Team USA will only play two opponents in the preliminary round after RPC athletes were denied participation by the IPC, as announced on March 3, 2021. The U.S. will play its next game, in the semifinals, on Friday, March 11.
“There are little things we need to keep working on and keep building,” Wallace said. “But I think we are on the right trajectory to play our best game at the end of the week.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022? Visit www.teamusa.org/beijing-2022-paralympic-games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.
Scott Charles is a sportswriter whose work has been featured in the Associated Press, various NBC platforms and Yahoo! Sports among other places. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org and you can follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.