December 15 - USA Hockey today announced its squad for the 2010 Paralympic sledge hockey event for next year's Games in Vancouver, where they will start as the favourites for the gold medal.

Nine athletes named to the team have participated in at least one Paralympic competition.

The squad is led by 43-year-old Joe Howard (pictured), a member of every US Paralympic team since the country's first appearance at the Games in 1998.

Other veterans include goalie Steve Cash, defencemen Taylor Chace, Jimmy Connelly and Andy Yohe, and forwards Brad Emmerso, Tim Jones, Taylor Lipsett and Alexi Salamone.

Goalie Mike Blabac, defenceman Nikko Landeros and forwards Adam Page, Josh Pauls, Greg Shaw and Bubba Torres will round out the roster.

Ray Maluta, the head coach, said: "Trimming this roster from 18 to 15 was extremely difficult.

"We're confident that the group we're bringing to Vancouver gives us the best chance to take home gold."

After winning their first ever World Championship last May in the Czech Republic, the US will enter the Paralympic competition as top seed.

The Americans are historically strong in sledge hockey, having earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, and gold at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.