Paralympian from La Grange has golden moment in South Korea
Team USA's stunning victory over Canada in the Paralympic Sled Hockey gold medal round earlier this week is still a bit overwhelming for La Grange resident Josh Misiewicz, the U.S. Marine Corp veteran said shortly after medaling for the first time.
"Winning the gold medal was something I will never forget," Misiewicz said during a West Cook News email interview. "The highlight of us tying the game with 38 seconds left and then winning in overtime – I'm still stunned we won the gold."
Team USA won 2-1 over Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea on Monday with a last-minute goal and contributions from Misiewicz and teammate Brody Roybal of Northlake.
Misiewicz shrugged off the idea that he is a role model during the interview. "I just want to show anyone disabled that we can still do anything," he said.
Misiewicz's mother, Nancy, said her son's smile carries its own message. "Josh's smile said it all at the games," she said during a separate West Cook News interview. "I haven't seen him this happy in seven years. His smile was from ear to ear."
The past seven years have not been easy for Misiewicz, a Lyons Township High School graduate who lost his legs to an explosion in Afghanistan and who took up hockey as part of his recovery regime. Hockey was not a new sport for Misiewicz, who said he grew up playing roller and ice hockey. He said he played for Lyons Township when it was named an all-state team and the Chicago showcase in his senior year, when he was league MVP. He also played hockey a couple of years while attending St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona before he joined the Marines.
"While recovering at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center in Maryland), I was introduced to sled hockey where I started playing for the USA Warriors," Misiewicz said. "After a few years I made the national sled hockey team in 2015 and, later on, made the Paralympic team."
Misiewicz and the rest of Team USA beat Japan 10-0 before going into the gold medal round on Monday. In that game, Canada was strong early on. Team USA tied it in the final minute, according to coverage by NBC Olympic's newsfeed. In the final 30 seconds, USA team member Declan Farmer, with an assist from Roybal, scored the final goal, winning the game 2-1 for a third consecutive Paralympic gold medal for Team USA, according to the newsfeed.
Shortly after beating Canada, Team USA celebrated in the Gangneung Hockey Centre with a heartfelt rendition of the national anthem.
Monday's win over Canada was Misiewicz's first Paralympic gold medal.
Misiewicz came close to scoring in the game when he almost shot the puck past team Canada goalie Dominic Larocque earlier in the game.
"It was a lot of work," Misiewicz said. "We have been training hard all year to earn this gold and it paid off."
Those years of hard work and now his first gold medal are helping to give Misiewicz "a new normal" his mother said. "We are all so excited for Josh and the team, and winning the gold medal," she said.
"It's like we can breathe again."