USA Hockey today announced that goaltender Jen Yung Lee and forward Rico Roman of the San Antonio Rampage Sled Hockey Team have been selected to represent the 2010-11 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
The roster was selected following tryouts in Rochester, N.Y., last weekend. The 16-member team will represent the United States at various international exhibitions and International Paralympic Committee-sanctioned events throughout the season. A full 2010-11 schedule will be released by USA Hockey later this summer.
The 2010-11 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team roster consists of 10 returning members that served on the gold medal-winning 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team and four members of the 2009-10 U.S. National Junior Sled Hockey Team. Lee and Roman are the only team members who have not previously served on a U.S. National Team.
“This was my first time to try out for the team and the overall experience was awesome,” said Lee. “It felt great to be able to compete against other top sled hockey players in the country in which most of them are returning members. Everyone is so much faster and more skilled. It inspires you to step up your game and bring your ‘A’ game.”
Lee, 24, is a native of San Francisco and joined the Rampage Sled Hockey Team in 2009. A former high school goalie, Lee was injured in a motorcycle accident last year which claimed part of his left leg. He is currently enlisted with the U.S. Army and remains on active duty.
“This opportunity means a lot to me,” said Roman. “This was my second tryout and I have been working very hard to make the team. Now I have another chance to represent my country.”
Roman, 29, is a native of Portland, Ore. and joined the Rampage Sled Hockey Team in 2008. He came to San Antonio in 2007 for rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) after suffering an injury which claimed his left leg when a roadside bomb exploded under his vehicle in Iraq.
“During my rehabilitation, I was approached by Operation Comfort to play sled hockey and at the time I knew nothing about hockey,” said Roman. “Now I’m the one who is always trying to recruit guys at the Center for Intrepid. I hope that making the National Team will inspire other disabled veterans to pursue the sport.”
The San Antonio Rampage Sled Hockey Team was the first team to form that consists of all wounded military service members. The team is run by Operation Comfort, a nonprofit organization that works with wounded service members coming from Iraq and Afghanistan who are recovering at BAMC in San Antonio, Texas.
The team is led by Lonnie Hannah, a two-time Paralympian who was named USA Hockey’s 2009 Disabled Athlete of the Year. Hannah helped the United States Sled Hockey Team capture the gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002 and a bronze medal in 2006 in Torino. He most recently helped Team USA to its first-ever gold medal at the 2009 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship.
“I am so proud of both Jen and Rico,” said Hannah. “They have worked so hard and deserve to be there. Their hard work doesn’t end now, its starts now, with a lot of work still ahead of them.”
The Rampage Sled Hockey Team was formed in January 2007. Operation Comfort presented the team with sleds donated from their organization and the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League (AHL) outfitted the sled hockey team with equipment and jerseys. The Rampage (AHL) continues to host various fundraising events, including their annual Military Appreciation Night, to raise money to support the Rampage Sled Hockey Team. The sled hockey team started with seven players and has quickly gained popularity in which the team now consists of more than 15 players. The team began playing in tournaments in 2008 and has since traveled to Illinois, Utah, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri and throughout Texas.