INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. -- The Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail took great pride in the news they heard on Saturday evening. Word came in that the United States Paralympic Sled Hockey Team won the gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
And the gold medal news marked the ultimate conclusion to a project the Extreme Ice Center, along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano, put into place nearly nine months ago.
The Extreme Ice Center designed, developed, built and donated brand new, state-of-the-art sleds to the U.S. Paralympic Team in hopes of helping the team come one step closer to achieving their goals and winning gold at the 2010 Paralympic Games.
When the U.S. Sled Hockey team defeated Japan 2-0 on Saturday night to capture the gold, the ultimate goal was met; and pride was shared between all those involved at the Extreme Ice Center and with Logano.
"Winning gold in the Paralympic Games comes down to hard work and determination from the players and skillful coaching and that is what got the U.S. team their gold medal," said Mike Mulhall, Extreme Ice Center's General Manager. "We, as a business, couldn't be any happier for that entire group of guys and their coaching staff for what they have accomplished. They beat the best of the best in the world and can now be called the best there is in their sport.
“We are just filled with pride to know that we had even a hand in helping these guys reach their goal. We didn’t do anything but give these guys what we thought was a sled that could help them win. They then took that and played their hearts out. We just hope that the new sleds made their jobs easier and that is something that we can hang our hat on. We’re just so happy for the entire team. They made their entire country, and this little part of North Carolina, super proud.”
The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team had a dominating performance in Vancouver, winning all five of their games and outscoring opponents 19-0. The U.S. team defeated South Korea, Czech Republic, Japan (twice) and Norway en route to the gold.
Since receiving their new sleds from the Extreme Ice Center in late January just before the 2010 Japan Para Ice Sledge Hockey Championships in Nagano City, Japan, the team has went 9-1 overall and won gold in each tournament they’ve entered.
Logano, who was in Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend when he heard the news, and couldn’t have been any happier.
“Those guys are freaking amazing and I knew they would win gold,” said Logano, who recorded his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole and became the youngest pole winner in series history on the same weekend. “I’ve been a hockey fan all my life and I don’t think I’ve seen a group of guys who wanted to play more or win more than those guys. I was watching on the computer and getting updates from the guys at the Ice Center on how the team was doing all week long. When I found out they were in the gold medal game, I was stoked. Then, when I found out after the Nationwide Series race that they had won gold, it made my day.
“I’m just really happy I was able to be a part of this project with the Extreme Ice Center, my dad (Tom) and everyone else that was involved. Hopefully, this will bring more attention to the team, to USA Hockey and get more people involved in the sport.”
Logano immediately jumped on board with the project when his father Tom, a partner at the Extreme Ice Center, asked him to get involved. Joey used his status as a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family of Drivers and their “Chugs for Charity” program to help fund the project.
With the Paralympics coming to an end, Mulhall can sit back now and reflect.
“It was a great opportunity for the ice rink to do something for a great group of guys,” added Mulhall. “We really came together when doing the whole project and now that the guys have taken the final product and went out there and won gold, we can sit back and take pride in what we have done. It was great to get to know some of the guys and root for the team during the games. Now, after they take some time off, maybe they can go out and win some more big tournaments. And hopefully, we can continue working with them and helping them out in the future.”
For more information on Extreme Ice Center, visit them on the web at www.xicenter.com or call 704-882-1830.
For more information on USA Hockey, visit them at www.usahockey.com.
For more information on Joey Logano, visit his website at www.joeylogano.com or call Jeremy Troiano at 704-726-6849.