Jeff Sauer, Jen Lee, Operaton Comfort, Paralympics, Rico Roman, San Antonio Rampage, University of Wisconsin
Rico Roman and Jen Lee of the San Antonio Rampage sled hockey team were named Wednesday to the final roster of the U.S. team that will compete in the 2014 Paralympics Winter Games March 7-16 in Sochi, Russia following the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“I’m excited about this skilled group of players that we’ll be taking to Sochi,” said Jeff Sauer, head coach of the U.S. team and former coach at the University of Wisconsin and Colorado College men’s ice hockey teams. “I like the chemistry that is building among them. We have some players with extensive paralympic experience, in addition to younger players who can’t wait to step up to the highest level of competition in our sport.” Roman, a defenseman-turned forward, and goaltender Lee are among 17 players named to the U.S. squad. An Army staff sergeant from Oregon, Roman is the first war-wounded veteran to earn a spot on the U.S. National sled hockey team. His left leg was amputated just above the knee a year after it was badly damaged by an Improvised Explosive Device blast during Roman’s third tour of Iraq in February 2007. Lee, an Army staff sergeant from San Francisco who joined the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had his left leg amputated above the left knee after being involved in a motorcycle accident in 2009. Both men got involved in sled hockey through Operation Comfort while recovering at
the Brooke Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Operation Comfort is a nonprofit group that provides rehabilitative and therapeutic programs for wounded vets at the medical center. The two are teammates on the Rampage sled hockey team, which is a joint effort between Operation Comfort and the American Hockey League San Antonio Rampage. The sled hockey team is a mixture of military veterans and local residents with disabilities. Roman and Lee are joining 10 players on the Sochi-bound U.S. Paralympics squad who were on the 2010 U.S. Paralympics team that captured the Gold Medal at the Vancouver Games. “We’re very happy with the roster we have put together,” said Dan Brennan, the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team’s general manager. “Going back to tryouts in the summer, I can’t say enough about the depth of the talent we have available to us. It’s a tremendous luxury to have, yet it made the final player selection very difficult.”