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The US Men’s National Deaf Ice Hockey Team defeated Canada to win gold at the 19th Winter Deaflympics on December 21, 2019. The 19th Winter Deaflympics were held on December 12–21, 2019, in Valtellina Valchiavenna, Italy. The competition was organized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf and sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
Hockey teams from Canada, Finland, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United States competed at the 2019 games. The US team beat Finland (6-2), Kazakhstan (14-0) and Russia (7-3) in round-robin play. They suffered their only round-robin loss to Canada (1-4) the day preceding the championship game. In the gold medal game, the US team took a decisive lead in the second period going up 4-1. The game ended with a final score of USA 7 – Canada 3.
The US team included 16 players who previously competed internationally as a member of U.S. teams that won a bronze medal at the 2015 Deaflympics held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, and/or the gold medal at the 2017 World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships. This year’s team members ranged in age from 16 to 34 and hailed from 14 states.
“We had one goal for the Deaflympics, to win gold,” said General Manager Richard Dumas. “I can’t say enough about our players and how quickly they came together as a team. From the first game on, they played at a high level and demonstrated their will to do what it took to win. It was a tremendous honor to represent the United States and to return home with a gold medal.”
The team operates under the guidelines of USA Hockey and the USA Deaf Sports Federation with a primary responsibility to organize the team resting with AHIHA – Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. To qualify, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in their “better ear.” Hearing aids, cochlear implants and the like are not allowed during the competition to ensure that all athletes play on the same level.