A Library Journal Best Arts & Humanities Book 2022The extraordinary true story of the U.S. sled hockey team that overcame physical adversity and internal strife to win Paralympic gold.
When former NHL star Rick Middleton accepted the position of head coach for the United States sled hockey team, he wasn’t sure what to expect. The program had never medaled—had never even come close, in fact. But where Middleton might have found despair, he instead found an incredible group of men who had battled their way back from hell to play the sport they love.
In Hockey’s Hidden Gods: The Untold Story of a Paralympic Miracle on Ice, S.C. Megale uncovers the remarkable tale of a team that shocked the world by taking U.S. sled hockey from worst to first in the 2002 Paralympics. Odds of winning were dismal. The road to victory seemed unfathomable. But this cast of fifteen athletes with disabilities, athletes who had helped build a groundbreaking U.S. sled hockey program with almost no outside support, ultimately persevered on the global stage.
Featuring a fascinating history of sled hockey, exclusive interviews with players and coaches, action-packed game coverage, and intimate profiles sharing the players’ personal journeys, Hockey’s Hidden Gods is the uplifting story of how once-shattered dreams can be reborn and rebuilt through tenacity, grit, and an indomitable spirit.
S.C. Megale is an adventurer, humanitarian, hockey lover, and author who lives outside Washington, DC, and was first traditionally published at the age of twenty-three. A prolific writer, Megale has been profiled by the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Today Show, among others. Megale’s genetic and permanent muscular dystrophy lends a unique perspective to Hockey’s Hidden Gods few other authors can match. For more information, please visit www.scmegale.com.
Key for Player Stats
Chapter 1: Lake of Legend: Sled Hockey’s History, Rules, and Equipment
Chapter 2: Manny Guerra, Jr.
Chapter 3: Nagano
Chapter 4: Joe Howard
Chapter 5: Gathering the Team
Chapter 6: Sly Flis
Chapter 7: Training Champions
Chapter 8: Patrick Byrne
Chapter 9: Arriving in Salt Lake City
Chapter 10: Dave Conklin
Chapter 11: Game One: USA vs. Japan
Chapter 12: Chris Manns
Chapter 13: Game Two: USA vs. Canada
Chapter 14: Josh Wirt
Chapter 15: Game Three: USA vs. Norway
Chapter 16: Brian Ruhe
Chapter 17: Kip St. Germaine
Chapter 18: Game Four: USA vs. Sweden
Chapter 19: Dan Henderson
Chapter 20: Game Five: USA vs. Estonia
Chapter 21: James Dunham
Chapter 22: Pat Sapp
Chapter 23: The Storm Before the Storm
Chapter 24: Gold Medal Game: USA vs. Norway
Chapter 25: Lonnie Hannah
Chapter 26: Matt Coppens and Jack Sanders
Chapter 27: Aftermath
About the Author
Twenty years ago, it was generally accepted that the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team was just awful. Winning a medal was not just unlikely but downright inconceivable. That changed in 2002, when Rick Middleton, a former NHL player, signed on to coach the team and led it to winning the gold medal. The subtitle’s use of the phrase “miracle on ice” references the 1980 gold-medal Olympic hockey game between Russia and the U.S. (in which a mostly amateur U.S. team defeated the powerhouse Soviets). Applying that phrase to the paralympic sled-hockey team's triumph in 2002 is entirely apt; this story, like that one, is a classic triumph-over-adversity saga. It wasn’t the players' physical limitations that kept them from succeeding; it was their lack of training and cohesion as a team. This well-told account of how they overcame those obstacles is a sports story that transcends athletics. Inspirational can be an overused adjective, but not this time.
The story of the U.S. Paralympic men’s sled (or sledge) hockey team and their miracle performance in 2002 is not a well-known story. Megale (American Boy: The Opioid Crisis and the Sister Left Behind)—whose author bio notes that having genetic and permanent muscular dystrophy gives her a unique perspective on the Paralympics—tells it well and effectively by noting the development of sled hockey and alternating chapters that either give a chronological view of the team or biographically portrays the individual athletes…. In her analysis, winning gold when they were not expected to win any medal at all secured the future of the U.S. sled hockey program. Megale provides a richly detailed account of the U.S. men’s sled hockey program and its obstacles and trials (including some self-inflicted ones); it’s sure to appeal to fans of triumphant sports stories.
A great book and story about another miracle: the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices these young men went through to accomplish an incredible goal. The incredible effort individually and collectively that they put together to win their gold medal is a great message for all of us.
The stories told within these pages will capture your heart and challenge you to think differently. From the history of the incredible sport of sled hockey, to the stories of community, taking risks, defining and redefining winning, and the true passion and dedication to overcoming adversity, this book is a true victor’s tale. The way the pages flow purposefully together and weave with emotion will leave you wanting more. It is a privilege to have these stories shared, and to experience life through the eyes of those within.