Team USA and Canada to compete against South Korea and Japan in Pan Pacific Championships
The United States National Sled Hockey Team will compete against Team Canada, Team South Korea and Team Pan Pacific (made up of players from Japan and other participating countries) in the 2016 Ice Sledge Hockey Pan Pacific Championships March 29 through April 2 at downtown Buffalo's HARBORCENTER. The inaugural tournament comes on the heels of the highly successful 2015 IPC World Ice Sledge Hockey Championships, which drew more than 10,000 fans from around the world to HARBORCENTER last year.
"We are pleased to welcome the world back to HARBORCENTER for the second major international sled hockey tournament since our opening in October 2014," said Nik Fattey, HARBORCENTER's vice president and director of hockey. "In hosting the 2015 World Championships, we were fortunate to watch some of the best sled hockey that has ever been played in North America. The sold-out final between the United States and Canada was one of the most memorable events of our inaugural year. We are honored that those two teams will be returning to Buffalo, along with world-class players from Japan and South Korea."
The 2016 Ice Sledge Hockey Pan Pacific Championships face off on Tuesday, March 29, and will begin with a round-robin preliminary round. The top two teams in the opening round will advance to a winner-take-all championship game on Saturday, April 2. Tickets for all games will be available for $5 online at https://sabres.formstack.com/forms/pan. Unsold tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event. The preliminary tournament schedule is below. All games will be played on First Niagara Rink at HARBORCENTER (formerly Rink 1).
Tuesday, March 29
Wednesday, March 30
Friday, April 1
Saturday, April 2
"It is very exciting to be heading back to the HARBORCENTER for the second time in under a year, especially as it comes off the back of our most successful World Championships A-Pool," said Jessica Korber, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey sport manager. "We are pushing to develop ice sledge hockey around the world with two years until the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, and this championships will help us to do that. I am grateful to the HARBORCENTER for their help in organizing the tournament on the ground and I have no doubt that it will be an excellent event."
The 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships was the first major international sled hockey event to come to HARBORCENTER, and featured the world's best sled hockey teams of 2015: United States, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Norway and Japan.
Team USA entered the tournament as the favorites, on home ice, after having just defeated Team Russia for Paralympic sled hockey gold at the 2014 Sochi Games. The Americans opened the tournament with a win over rival Russia and added wins against Germany, Italy and Norway.
Meanwhile, Team Canada tore through its division and defeated Russia in a competitive semifinal game to set up a gold medal final against its cross-border rival United States.
Team USA and Canada teams hit the ice in front of an enthusiastic, sold-out, flag-waving crowd for the final. The play on the ice was as spirited as the emotion in the stands. Team USA, the best defensive team in the tournament, completed a 3-0 shutout of its neighbors to the north to claim the gold medal on home ice.
Complete information is available on the tournament's website: www.paralympic.org/Buffalo-2016.