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Minnesota Natives to Represent U.S. in 2019 Deaflympics

By Minnesota Hockey, 12/09/19, 2:30PM CST


Minnesota natives Henry Fusco and Ben Johnson will represent the United States at the 19th Winter Deaflympics on December 12-21, 2019 in Valtellina Valchiavenna, Italy.  The 23-man roster was determined by the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA), and the event is hosted by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

“We're excited about our team and their pride in representing the United States at the Deaflympics,” said head coach Joe Gotfryd. “The team is prepared for the high level of competition that we will face in this tournament. We will be competing in Italy with one goal, winning a gold medal.”

Of the 23 players rostered, 16 are returnees from previous international competitions including Fusco, who was the youngest player at age 16 on the U.S. team that won a gold medal at the 2017 World Championships in Amherst, New York. A White Bear Lake native, Fusco has spent time on the high school’s junior varsity team, and last season, he helped the Jr. Gold A team to the Minnesota Hockey State Tournament last season.

After competing in three Winter Deaflympics as a player, Ben Johnson will join this year’s team behind the bench as an assistant coach. Johnson, who grew up in Duluth and played his high school hockey for Duluth East, led the U.S. team in scoring en route to a gold medal at the 2007 Winter Deaflympics. Johnson currently serves as the head coach at Ely High School and the Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey team.

The team operates under the guidelines of USA Hockey and the USA Deaf Sports Federation. To qualify, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in their "better ear." Hearing aids, cochlear implants and the like are not allowed during competition to ensure all athletes play on the same level.

Name Height Weight Age Position Hometown
Curran Allison* 6 – 1 160 22 Goalie Laguna Niguel, CA
Tyler Balcerak 5 – 10 200 18 Defense Chicago, IL
Troy Benson* 6 – 3 196 29 Forward Henderson, NC
Christian Buczek* 5 – 10 170 22 Defense Hamburg, NY
Max Finley* 6 – 1 180 25 Forward Peoria, IL
Henry Fusco* 5 – 9 140 18 Forward White Bear Lake, MN
Miles Gates* 6 – 2 218 30 Defense Erie, PA
Garrett Gintoli* 6 – 2 160 22 Forward Shelton, CT
Peter Gintoli* 5 – 8 175 27 Forward Shelton, CT
William “Bill” Holtzer 5 – 10 160 16 Forward Akron, OH
Sam Holzrichter* 5 – 10 150 22 Forward Sioux City, IA
Scott Humes* 6 – 3 215 23 Forward Columbus, OH
Grant Isenbarger* 6 – 2 180 25 Forward Ft. Wayne, IN
Ryne Krueger* 6 – 2 165 21 Defense Barrington, IL
Danny Kurchena* 6 – 2 195 22 Forward Rutland, VT
Anders Lindgren 5 – 11 170 20 Forward Saint Anne, IL
Jeff Mansfield* 6 – 1 190 34 Goalie Arlington, MA
Trevor McHugh 6 – 2 150 18 Goalie Montclair, VA
T.J. Oricchio* 5 – 11 160 22 Defense Plattsburgh, NY
Luke Peinado 5 – 9 155 16 Defense Winnetka, IL
Jake Schlereth 5 – 9 175 18 Forward Fenton, MO
Max Stephens 5 – 10 155 17 Defense Medford, MA
Derek Struwing* 5 – 9 165 21 Forward Bartlett, IL

*Previous international team experience

About the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA):
AHIHA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is one of the leading sports organizations in the U.S. serving deaf and hard of hearing athletes. Founded in 1973 by National Hockey League Hall of Fame member Stan Mikita and businessman Irv Tiahnybik, AHIHA supports deaf and hard of hearing athletes to develop confidence and self-esteem while building life skills through the game of hockey. To learn more about AHIHA, please visit

For information about the 2019 Winter Deaflympics

For information on the USA Deaf Sports Federation: 

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