Hockey’s Hidden Gods: The Untold Story of a Paralympic Miracle on Ice

Rowman & Littlefield. Dec. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781538166642. $32. SPORTS
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 2002, the U.S. sled hockey program was barely hanging on, as she describes it, having won only two games in 10 years of international competition, but they gained a spot at that year’s Paralympic Games because the United States was the host country. The book describes the run-up to the Games in Salt Lake City and Team U.S.A.’s somewhat controversial choice of former NHL player Rick Middleton to coach the team, and readers will be satisfied with the way Megale leads them to Team U.S.A.’s improbable gold-medal victory at the 2002 Games. 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.
VERDICT 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.
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