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Sledge Hockey Hugs: USA wins Paralympic gold; Czechs are big tippers

Harrison Mooney
Puck Daddy

Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the sport of hockey, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Have you seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or Tweet it to @HarrisonMooney.

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Team USA and Team Russia were arguably the two biggest disappointments at the men's Olympic hockey tournament, but at the Paralympic sledge hockey tournament, they faced off in the gold medal game.

Team USA took a 1-0 lead in the second period, thanks to breakaway goal by Josh Sweeney, and after that, it was up to American goaltender Steve Cash, known to teammates as "Cash Money", to shut the door. He did, the 1-0 score held up, and the Americans won their second consecutive Paralympic gold.

Despite the obvious difference -- the sledges, which allow the physically disabled athletes to shoot around the ice, the fact that players wield two sticks, and the penalty of teeing, which is charging someone head on with one's sledge -- sledge hockey isn't all that dissimilar from ice hockey. All the regular rules apply.

Also, the hugs after goals are just as excellent. Heck, maybe moreso, since everyone's so low to the ground. Seriously, look how compact Team Russia is up top. There's five guys in that photo! Five!

And there are six more sledge hockey hugs in this post. Six!

No. 6, Team Czech Republic

This is either a photo of David Palat getting dog piled after a goal, or the most brilliant strategy for advancing the puck.

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"Stay close together, boys! And keep inching the puck towards the goal! Together we're uncheckable!"

No. 5, Team Russia

Apparently, this is a photo of Andrey Dvinyaninov (middle) of Russia celebrating a goal. So why does he look so grumpy?

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"Andrey..."

"Andrey..."

"Andreeeeeeeeey..."

"ANDREEEEEEEEY!"

"What?!"

"Hey buddy. Hug for you."

No. 4, Team South Korea

I want to experience the joy that Min-Su Han and Seung-Hwan Jung are experiencing.

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"Pay attention class! This is what's known as a right angle!"

"Sledge hockey makes math fun!"

No. 3, Team Norway

Audun Bakke (middle) officiates a snuggling competition between Rolf Einer Pedersen and Eskil Hagen.

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"Whoa this is the best one yet! You're in tough now, Eskil! Ten out of ten!"

No. 2: Team Czech Republic

Pavel Kubes takes Michal Geier down.

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"Don't tip me over, Pavel."

"I'm not gonna."

"Don't."

"I wasn't gonna."

"Okay good because--"

"TIP!!!"

No. 1, Team USA

But seriously, nothing, and I mean nothing, could ever possibly top Steve Cash and Nikko Landeros's epic celebration after Team USA took down the gold. Look at this sequence of hugs. It's pure elation as Landeros (right) hugs goalie Steve Cash (left):

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Landeros and teammate Tyler Carron began their sledge hockey careers together after becoming bilateral amputees in the same accident. Members of the Berthoud High School wrestling team, they were on the way home from a dance when they got a flat. While they were changing the tire, they were struck by another vehicle and pinned between the two cars.

That's a sad story. But I see nothing but joy in these photos. Here's that same moment from above:

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And once he was joined by the rest of his teammates, Cash just kept on celebrating at an elite level:

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"KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!"

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s/t to Jen LC for the idea.

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Harrison Mooney is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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