TV Picks: Murderball on blades, thats the nickname for ice sled hockey, a riveting game of force, speed and strategy.
Played with the same intensity as standup hockey, its players battle with their sticks, sharp sled runners, and the serrated ice picks used to propel their sleds.
A new primetime PBS documentary goes behind the scenes of this fascinating sport, gaining unparalleled access to chronicle the struggles, heroics and stunning accomplishments of the elite competitors on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.
Beginning in September of 2013, Ice Warriors filmmakers accompanied the players at training camps and competitions, in locker rooms and in their homes, giving viewers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at their arduous journey to Sochi, Russia. Focusing on their season-long efforts to bond as a team, the project expands on stories of the sport, the players and their families, offering up-close portraits of these amazing athletes as they face off against the best teams in the world. Their Road to Gold is also marked by deep uncertainty, as unfolding news events in Crimea jeopardize the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and U.S.-Russia relations rapidly deteriorate. Team USAs triumph — winning unprecedented back-to-back gold medals is the capstone of their efforts and the program. The new 90-minute film, Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey, premieres on Monday, November 10, 2014 at 10 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).
Played every two years the Paralympic Games bring together the worlds top athletes with physical disabilities to battle, as in the Olympics, for bronze, silver, and gold medals, in the presence of the iconic flaming torch. In the 2014 Winter Games, the sled hockey team includes players with personal stories that are riveting and inspirational, from a 15-year-old making his team debut, to four wounded warriors, injured veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and are proud to continue representing the U.S. in international sport.
The teams two forward lines highlight this diverse roster that draws on both experience and youth. The Bravo-Delta line consists of three military men who were injured in combat and lost one or both legs. Rico Roman, Josh Sweeney, and Paul Schaus are always the starters. The second line is nicknamed the Kids line and consists of 15-year-old Brody Roybal, 16-year-old Declan Farmer, and the old guy, 20-year-old Josh Pauls. Although young, the Kids baffle opposing teams in Sochi with their quickness and amazing maturity. All are committed to winning gold against their traditional rivals, Canada, and the upstart young team from Russia.
The 2014 Paralympics are marked by additional tensions, as the Games are played in the shadow of the Ukraine crisis, less than 300 miles away across the Black Sea. After their hard work preparing, will Team USA be pulled from the Games because of world events? How will the players, especially the young ones, handle the shock of playing in front of such huge, partisan crowds at the Shayba Arena? Will the controversial loss to Russia unnerve and derail the Americans? The Games culminate with Team USAs comeback win against Canada, one of the best-fought competitions of the 2014 tournament, and their triumph in the gold medal match against the remarkably tough Russians.
On and off the ice, viewers witness the camaraderie of the teammates, learn about the personal triumphs and trials of the athletes, and see them at home with their supportive families. ICE WARRIORS interviews many of the athletes parents, including Taylor Lipsetts mother who discusses the challenges and heartbreaks of watching her son play in this aggressive sport despite a diagnosis of brittle bone disease. Other parents describe why they didnt try to shelter their disabled child from participating.
The program also presents personal backstories, like the dramatic tale of wounded warrior Josh Sweeneys injury in Afghanistan, where he almost bled to death waiting for medical transport after an IED explosion.
Another warrior-athlete, goaltender Jen Lee, had his left leg amputated above the knee when he was injured in a motorcycle accident, but he fought back to join Team USA while still serving as an active duty United States Army sergeant.
Team captain Andy Yohe, who lost his legs in a train accident, is the teams oldest player at 35 years old. Two of the youngest players, Tyler Carron and Nikko Landeros, have a shared story: best friends in high school, they were in a car accident that meant amputations for them both. They went through rehab together, tried out for sled hockey together, and are now teammates again.
These athletes shatter preconceptions about adaptive sports and redefine what makes a champion, says WGBH executive producer, Judith Vecchione. Winning, losing, and fighting back – the film shares the incredible drive of the U.S. Sled Hockey team and gives viewers a spiritual uplift.
The 2014 U.S. Paralympics Sled Hockey Team members are:
- Tyler Carron (#11, Defenseman) Fort Collins, CO
- Steve Cash (#34, Goaltender) Overland, MO
- Taylor Chace (#9, Defenseman) Hampton Falls, NH
- Declan Farmer (#6, Forward) Tampa, FL
- Nikko Landeros (#15, Defenseman) Johnstown, CO
- Jen Lee (#1, Goaltender) San Francisco, CA
- Taylor Lipsett (#7, Forward) Plano, TX
- Dan McCoy (#14, Forward) Cheswick, PA
- Kevin McKee (#18, Forward) Davenport, IA
- Adam Page (#20, Forward) Lancaster, NY
- Josh Pauls (#27, Defenseman) Green Brook, NJ
- Rico Roman (#23, Defenseman) Portland, OR
- Brody Roybal (#4, Forward) Northlake, IL
- Paul Schaus (#28, Forward) Buffalo, NY
- Greg Shaw (#8, Forward) Merritt Island, FL
- Josh Sweeney (#13, Forward) Phoenix, AZ
- Andy Yohe (#9, Defenseman) Bettendorf, IA
- Jeff Sauer (Coach) Madison, WI
Produced by WGBH Boston, Ice Warriors is made by the creators of the award-winning 2012 project MEDAL QUEST, which showcased Americas elite athletes as they trained for and competed in the London 2012 Summer Paralympic Games.
Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey is a production of WGBH Boston and is presented in the United States under agreement with the United States Olympic Committee. Executive Producer is Judith Vecchione. Senior Producer: Juan Mandelbaum. Digital Executive Producer: Meredith Nierman. Video production: Luminant Media, Executive Producer Brian Knappenberger.