December 11 - Russia's ice sledge hockey team have been named as the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Athlete of the Month for November after winning gold at the 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey B Pool World Championships, just two years after starting up their programme.
Coached by Sergey Samoylov, Russia (pictured top) defeated Sweden, 1-0 , in the championship game in Novi Sad, Serbia last month in an intense defensive battle that came down to the final period, with a match-deciding goal from Engeny Petrov.
Russia outscored their opponents 20-2 at the tournament recording nearly one-third of the 61 goals scored on the ice throughout the entire event – a vast improvement on their seventh-place finish at the 2011 European Championships.
The team will now move up to the A Pool for 2013, with just over a year to go until they host the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
It was Russia's 3-2 win over Germany in a shootout on the second day of the Championships that was undeniably the highlight of the week for many of the fans.
The Russian side were nervous in their World Championship debut, but Dmitry Lisov's two goals during regulation ensured they kept the score even to force an overtime period and then a shootout.
Several shots nearly found the back of the net during the shootout, but it was Russia's Ilya Volkov who had the only successful attempt, giving his team their first win of their undefeated campaign at the championships.
Petrov proved the nation's top player during the tournament, scoring four times and recording 16 shots on goal, with his most important one coming as the only goal scored in the gold-medal game against Sweden.
"It was good what we've done with the programme," Samoylov said.
"We've just begun this kind of sport in Russia, and it's great to be promoted from Pool B to Pool A in just a few years.
"It's now our next task to compete with the world's best in the A Pool and then in Sochi."
The Russian team received 48 per cent of the public's vote to see off Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel, Dutch wheelchair tennis player Jiske Griffioen, Norway's wheelchair curling team and Brazil's men's wheelchair basketball team, who were also shortlisted for the November IPC Athlete of the Month title.
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December 2012: Dutch stars top IPC Athlete of the Month shortlist
November 2012: Russia wins 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey B Pool World Championships