A spinal-cord injury playing junior hockey at the age of 16 set Taylor Chace down a path that ultimately made him a three-time Paralympic medalist.
Chace, a native of Hampton Falls, excelled at several sports growing up but hockey was his best. He became the youngest member of the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
On Oct. 6, 2002, playing in a charity game with the Monarchs in Cannington, Ont., Chace was checked, back-first, into the dasher behind the net. He collapsed to the ice, unable to feel or move from the waist down.
He was diagnosed with an incomplete spinal cord injury. After hours of surgery, weeks of hospitalization and months of rehabilitation, he relearned to walk using his remaining muscle in 2003; Chace was introduced to Northeast Passage at the University of New Hampshire and the sport of sled hockey. Two years later, he was invited to try out for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and made it.
Since 2005, Chance has played a big role in the U.S. National Team’s success. He was part of a bronze medal-winning team at the Paralympics Games in Torino in 2006. And 2010, he reached the pinnacle of his sport, captaining a U.S. team that won the gold medal at the Paralympics Games in Vancouver. He was named the tournament’s Top Defenseman and the Paralympics Sportsman of the Year for 2010.
In 2014, he helped the Americans become the first team to win back-to-back gold medals in sled hockey at the Paralympics, beating host Russia, 1-0, in the gold-medal game in Sochi.