Para Ice Hockey
Para ice hockey (formerly ice sledge hockey) is the version of Olympic ice hockey for athletes with a lower limb impairment.
Great Britain last had representation in the sport at Turin 2006, where the team finished in seventh place. The para ice hockey team made great strides in their development to reach the final qualification tournament for Sochi but were unable to qualify for the Paralympic Games, and also failed to qualify for PyeongChang 2018.
Many of the rules and regulations of the sport are the same as Olympic ice hockey; the main difference is in the technical equipment used.
Athletes use specially designed sledges fitted with two blades to propel themselves across the ice and have two playing sticks, which have a double function: they are used for pushing, much like a ski-pole in cross-country skiing, and to control and shoot the puck.
The game comprises three periods, each 15 minutes in length. Six players are allowed on the ice at any time and a total of 15 players make up a team.
First year at a Paralympic Games
Para ice hockey was invented at a rehabilitation centre in Stockholm, Sweden, during the early 1960s.
It was originally played on a sledge with two regular-sized ice hockey skate blades that allowed the puck to pass underneath.
The first version of the sport didn’t feature goaltenders and, by 1969, a five-team league had been created in Stockholm.
In the same year Sweden played Norway in the first international match and two Swedish national teams played against each other in an exhibition match during the 1976 Paralympic Winter Games in Sweden.
The sport first featured at the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Games and has quickly become one of the most popular attractions for spectators at the Winter Games.
At Sochi 2014
In the preliminary rounds of competition in Sochi only Canada proved unbeatable, with host nation Russia conceding a shock defeat in their opening match to seventh seeds South Korea after a nail-biting 3-2 shoot-out. The Russians revived their form and booked their ticket to the semi-finals by beating defending Paralympic champions USA in front of a capacity crowd at the Shayba Arena, ending American goaltender Steve Cash’s shutout streak of more than 313 minutes of play.
In the semi-finals, Declan Farmer, a 16-year-old Paralympic debutant from the USA, produced two goals and one assist to contribute to a 3-0 defeat of world champions Canada, ending their unbeaten streak and denying them the chance to play for the gold medal.
In the bronze medal match, Canada faced a replay of their Vancouver 2010 encounter against Norway, but avenged their loss four years prior with a 3-0 victory over their old rivals to claim the bronze medal this time around. In doing so, they prevented Norway from winning a medal for the first time since 1994.
In a thrilling final, the USA defeated Russia by a single goal from Josh Sweeney to claim gold. Their win crowned the USA as the first ever nation to win back to back Paralympic gold medals in the sport.
1 - USA
2 - Russia
3 - Canada