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Cancer survivor Steve Cash is relishing his induction into the US Hockey Hall of Fame

Former U.S. National Sled Team goalie played in four Paralympic Games where he helped the Americans win three goals medals and a bronze.

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Steve Cash makes a save for Team USA.
Contributed / USA Hockey

At the age of 3, Steve Cash had to deal with some crushing news. Cash had to have his right leg amputated due to osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

But he grew up in the St. Louis area with a love of hockey and ended up having a career with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team that was so stellar, Cash will be among five inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 30 at St. Paul RiverCentre.

Cash, a 33-year-old from St. Louis, got a call from USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher in August to give him the news.

"I kind of knew for over a month prior to their making the announcement that I was being inducted," he said. "But until they made the announcement, it was almost like it wasn't even real to me at that point. It was definitely an exciting moment and my family keeps telling me how proud they are of me. It's definitely been a great couple of months after finding out the news."

Cash will be inducted with Olympians Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Olympic and NHL goaltender Ryan Miller and the late Jim Johannson, a longtime USA Hockey executive.

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"To be able to fulfill my dreams and representing the USA — just getting it in a different way — was above and beyond my expectations, in general. Knowing the path that hockey has taken me is beyond my wildest dreams. To be able to hear that news that I was being inducted among the hockey greats, it's certainly an honor and a privilege for me. To do it on the 50th anniversary (of the Hall of Fame) is even more special."

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Goalkeeper Stece Cash of USA, Billy Bridges of Canada and Travis Dodson of USA in action during world para ice hockey championship game between USA and Canada June 19, 2021, in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
COURTESY OF Lukas Kabon / USA Hockey

Getting involved with hockey

Cash grew up with three older brothers: Mike, James and Donnie. His interest in the game began with them.

"I started skating on Rollerblades as therapy," Cash said. "My parents thought it would be good for me to get into something that would help me with my balance and coordination, walking with a prosthetic.

"My first experience was Rollerblading around my back patio with my mom and my brothers started getting into hockey. We started to dabble in the backyard and shoot pucks at each other, take turns playing goalie, because it was only fair. I just always gravitated toward the sport. Even though I was a disabled person playing among able-bodied (people) in inline and ice hockey, I never really thought of myself as different.

"What's funny is my first exposure to sled hockey was when I first started feeling like I didn't belong because I was so used to playing those stand-up sports. Then I realized what they did do in sleds and started to fall in love with the sport."

At the age of 15, he started playing sled hockey ... and realized that he had a lot to learn.

"Because of it's dynamics, I didn't realize just how difficult and challenging the sport is," Cash said of the game, which includes players using two sticks instead of one. "It was still hockey, no matter what. My first experience doing sled hockey was Mike Dowling, who was coaching the first sled team in St. Louis — he met me at an inline tournament because he'd heard about my prosthetic.

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"It was kind of ironic that I found out about sled hockey at an inline rink, playing stand-up hockey," said Cash, who added that the toughest part is learning that your arms are your legs in sled hockey. "It's kind of funny how things work out. But it was the first stepping stone to just some amazing things that I've been able to accomplish and achieve with some great teammates and great people by my side."

MORE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES COVERAGE:
Jim Johannson, a 1982 Rochester Mayo graduate, was a two-time Olympian, an NCAA national champion and was the assistant executive director of USA Hockey when he died in January of 2018. Johannson
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando will be inducted in November in St. Paul.
Rochester native Jim Johannson -- who played in two Olympic Games for Team USA and went on to a two-decade career at USA Hockey -- received a high honor Thursday. Johannson, who passed away in 2018,
Former U.S. National Sled Team goalie played in four Paralympic Games where he helped the Americans win three goals medals and a bronze.
One of only three goalies to win college hockey's highest honor, Miller retired with more NHL wins than any American goalie in history.

In 2006, he played for the U.S. in his first Paralympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, helping the Americans win a bronze medal.

"Scott Brandon was here in St. Louis and was on national team as a goaltender and Scott did a great job of helping coach and mentor me for that first season that I got into a sled," Cash said of 2004. "I was about eight months into a sled when I came into (national team) tryouts. The funny thing is I was competing against guys I had seen video of the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, which was the first time I'd even seen the sport.

"Here I am, playing against these guys I'd seen win a gold medal just a couple years prior. I don't have a shot at making this team at this time. Maybe in a few years I'll get my game up. I guess they saw some potential in me that I didn't see, bringing me onto that team as a backup goaltender. I actually got some decent playing time and some good experience and it was instrumental in me becoming the starting goaltender for the team."

Paralympics PyeongChang '18: Hockey
Goalie Steve Cash (left) following Team USA's 8-0 win over Korea on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at the Gangneung Hockey Center at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games.
Courtesy of Mark Reis / USA Hockey

Lots of medals

Cash went on to help the U.S. win gold medals at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and play in eight world championships (gold in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021; silver in 2013 and 2017; bronze in 2008).

Of course, his first Paralympic Games competition is a memory that sticks out for him.

"The first time I got on the ice in a Paralympic game was in Torino, I got a period of action in a game against Sweden," he said. "At that point, I was living out my dreams. Just how surreal the moment is, you try to soak in every moment while still trying to stop the puck at the same time.

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"There's definitely a lot of emotions going through your head. I always thrived in that environment because it made me that much more focused, knowing that there's so much on the line. At that point, you let your instincts take over. To be able to compete on the grandest stage in the world is ... it's a feeling you can't duplicate."

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Steve Cash
COURTESY OF USA HOCKEY

His parents were able to make it to the first three of his Paralympic Games experiences with the 2018 event in South Korea being the one that they missed. Cash is grateful that his parents were able to take it all in with him.

"Anytime you get to share in a moment like that with them is special," he said. "They've been my rock for so many years, going through cancer treatments, my parents and brothers included. To see them at the games and to be able to win a gold medal and do it for them ... I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate.

"My brothers are going to be able to make it to the induction ceremony," said Cash, who also has a grandmother and cousin who will be in attendance. "Luckily, they will be able to attend and see that with me. To have family with you along the way, it makes it that much more meaningful."

In 2021, Cash decided to retire from the national team.

In 15 games of Paralympic play, Cash allowed three goals. At the 2010 Paralympic Games, he set a record after recording five shutouts and not allowing a goal in Vancouver. Following that performance, Cash was awarded Best Male Athlete with a Disability at the 2010 ESPYs. He was also named the 2009 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Since retiring, he has begun work on a master's degree in finance, helps coach a youth team and skates regularly on an adult team. And he remains connected to the national team.

"It's great to still consider myself involved and a part of the team as a fan and spectator," he said. "I still kind of feel connected to the team. To see their success without me is perfectly fine. They've been able to do some great things and will continue to do so."

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Steve Cash played goalie for the U.S. National Sled Team in four Paralympic Games.
COURTESY OF USA HOCKEY

Related Topics: THE RINK LIVE
Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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