While Canada stormed the ice to celebrate its 1-0 victory over the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee World Championship in Goyang, South Korea, Declan Farmer was already turning his focus towards the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
“Finishing with the silver gives me more inspiration to get a lot better this summer, get back on the team and win gold in Sochi,” said the 15-year-old sled hockey phenom.
It should not be too hard for Farmer to pencil himself in as a member of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team after the Tampa, Fla., native capped off his rookie international season with four goals and four assists at the World Championship.
Farmer has risen through the ranks of the U.S. sled hockey community after participating in three U.S. development camps (2010, 2011 and 2012). He is the youngest player to ever wear the USA Hockey crest in international sled hockey competition.
The Berkeley Prep School (Tampa) freshman’s maturity and skill level certainly caught the attention of the U.S. coaching staff.
“He just loves the game, you can see it in his face and his demeanor,” said assistant coach Guy Gosselin.
“When he makes a good play he gets that self-satisfaction. He’s not throwing his arms up in the air whooping and hollering. It’s just ‘I did it.’ That’s very cool. You don’t get that a lot today.”
Farmer was born a bilateral amputee – one above the knee and one below – and was inspired to dedicate himself to sled hockey after watching Team USA win the 2010 Paralympic gold medal in sled hockey.
Despite being smaller and weaker than many of his older opponents, Farmer, a dual-shooting forward, has used his exceptional scoring ability to hold his own on the international level.
“I am one of the smaller and weaker guys out there, obviously, so I have to bury my shots,” said Farmer, who honed his skills after watching the U.S. squad on television. “Being able to shoot with both hands gives me more space out there. I can go wherever there is open ice instead of only where I can get a right-handed shot off.”
Linemate Josh Pauls, who coached Farmer at the 2010 U.S. National Sled Hockey Development Camp, said it’s been amazing to see the young player develop the skills and confidence level of a sled hockey veteran. Pauls believes if Farmer continues to work hard and stay humble he could become one of the greatest sled hockey players of all time.
“The sky is the limit for him. He is so young and so good,” Pauls said. “He has however many years to keep refining his game, keep getting better and making sure he stays on top.
“As long as he keeps on working hard, he could be the best player in the world in just a couple of years. You never know.”