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US downs Russia, wins sled hockey gold at Paralympics

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Josh Sweeney scored the only goal of the gold-medal game at the Paralympics. (Getty Images)
Josh Sweeney scored the only goal of the gold-medal game at the Paralympics. (Getty Images)

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Josh Sweeney lost both of his legs after being hit by an IED while serving as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan in 2009. His sacrifice already made him a hero, but to his teammates and coaches, he's a hero of a different kind. The 26-year-old Purple Heart recipient scored the only goal in the sled hockey gold-medal game at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia Saturday.

After pressuring a Russian defenseman, Sweeney stole the puck away, moved in on the net, made a subtle move and roofed a shot up and over the goaltender for a second-period tally that made it 1-0. That's the way it stayed.

The U.S. became the first country to win back-to-back gold medals in sled hockey at the Paralympics, which dates back to 1994.

U.S. goaltender Steve Cash made some key stops towards the end of the game for his 26th career shutout in international play.

Team USA was guided by legendary college hockey coach Jeff Sauer, who won two national titles with the University of Wisconsin. He also coached many U.S. national teams over the years, but never led a team to gold until now.

In downing Russia, the U.S. avenged its only loss of the tournament, which came at the hands of Russia in the preliminary round. The U.S. defeated Canada 3-0 in the semis to set the rematch.

This is the third gold medal for the U.S. in Paralympic sled hockey. The team has medaled in every Paralympics since 2002.

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