Grove In A Groove

Inspired By The Success Of The Past, The 20-Year-Old Forward Looks To Propel U.S. Sled Team Into The Future

Winning cures all.

 

It also has the ability to spark interest in a team or a sport, or in the case of the U.S. National Sled Team, both. 

 

After striking gold at the past three Paralympic Winter Games (2010, 2014, 2018), the U.S. sled program has captured the hearts and attention of both fans and potential players alike. It has also produced an increasingly competitive environment in making the national team, as well as sparking even more interest in the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Development Sled Teams.

 

Now, a lot of those players inspired by the national and Paralympic teams of past are making positive impacts on national teams of present.

 

Enter the recently turned 20-year-old Noah Grove of Frederick, Md., the youngest player on the U.S. National Sled Team. The forward is doing more than his share of the heavy lifting to try and help the U.S. win gold at the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship, taking place in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

 

After losing his leg to bone cancer at age five, took up a number of adaptive sports, excelling particularly at both standing amputee soccer and sled hockey.His skills progressed and his play began to standout, being invited to national team tryouts in both sports, including the U.S. Hockey Select Sled Camp in 2013. Grove played for the Development Sled Team for two seasons, and after seeing that 2014 Paralympic Sled Hockey Team win gold in Sochi, it pushed him to give it all he had to accomplish the same feat himself.

 

In the 2018 Paralympics, Grove had four points in four games as he realized his dream with the U.S. nabbing their third-straight Paralympic gold medal. Grove, who made his National Sled Team debut in 2016, has since played in three Para Hockey Cups. His prior World Championship experience in 2017 produced a silver medal, so Grove is determined to grab a gold medal again this year.

 

The forward has played a role in Team USA’s 3-0-0-0 start, scoring a goal in each contest through the preliminary round. His first goal of the tournament was a big one, proving to be the decisive game-winning goal in a 3-1 win over Canada after slamming home a cross-crease pass.

 

“For me it was like getting a monkey off my back,” Grove said. “I’ve been trying to score against Canada since I made the National Team. It was my first goal against Canada so it felt really good, especially to get it in that fashion.”

 

The celebration of the goal and significance to Grove is a steady reminder of how young he still is, what he’s been able to accomplish on the international stage so far in his career and his drive for more.

 

Playing on a line with Declan Farmer, Team USA’s all-time leading points scorer with 152 points and only a 21-year-old himself, has pushed Grove to try and emulate his consistent world-class level of play.

 

“If anyone stands out [in helping me] it’s probably Declan,” Grove said. “Playing with him on a line and just hanging out with him the past few years has really helped my growth as a player.”

 The U.S. will continue play in the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship on Friday in a semifinal against the hosting Czech Republic. The Americans are excited to play in front of such a large crowd as Czech contests have averaged over 6,700 fans through each game of the tournament.The U.S. will continue play in the 2019 Para Ice Hockey World Championship on Friday in a semifinal against the hosting Czech Republic. The Americans are excited to play in front of such a large crowd as Czech contests have averaged over 6,700 fans through each game of the tournament.

When not representing the U.S. internationally, Grove skates with the Boston Bruins Sled Hockey Team twice a weekend as well on his own three-to-four times a week. The time spent with the Bruins organization includes competitions at USA Hockey events like the USA Hockey Sled Classic, presented by the NHL, and the annual Toyota-USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival.His focus on improvement has shown, as well as realizing his role on the team.

 

“I’d say just all-around I’ve improved,” Grove said via a phone call from Prague, where the team spent Wednesday’s off-day. “My goal is to be just a good all-around player, I know my role on the team. To do that role I have to be well-rounded and be able to do everything.”

 

This determined group is looking to claim the U.S. its fourth Para Sled Hockey World Championship gold and the first since 2015. They have definitely put other teams on notice through preliminary round play.

 

The U.S. has outscored the opposition 17-1 through three games, dispatching Canada, South Korea (4-0) and Norway (10-0) in preliminary play. Their next game will be a semifinals game on Friday, May 3rd against the host Czech Republic, with the medal matches occurring the following day.

 

One more word of warning, Grove thinks the best is yet to come.

 

“We probably haven’t played our best game [yet],” Grove said. “We’re working really hard and everyone is playing as a team. There are no individuals. Everyone is working together to achieve the same goal.”

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