By Duncan Mackay

Taylor ChaceJanuary 16 - United States ice sledge hockey star Taylor Chace has been voted the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Athlete of the Month for December, it was announced today. 

The 26-year-old, who scored the winning goal in the gold-medal game of the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge against Canada, in Calgary and received 53 per cent of the public vote. 

"One goal, that's what made the difference," Chace said following the Championship game of the tournament.

"I just waited for that gap and I converted and just went in.

"We were only up by a goal, and that could have changed at any second .

"Any mistake that we made could have been capitalised on.

"We came out on top in this game, but it's always a battle.

"Our goal was to make it into this final game - that's always our goal at this tournament - and we just wanted to give ourselves a chance to win it."

It was America's first victory in the tournament since 2009, where Chace also scored the winning goal in their 3-2 overtime victory over the Canadians in Charlottetown.

Chace had been a promising ice hockey player until, in 2002, when he was 16, he was checked back-first into the boards.

The impact broke the L1 vertebra in his lower back, resulting in an incomplete spinal cord injury and partial paralysis of his legs.

Chace took up sledge hockey two years later and was a member of the American team that won the bronze medals in the Paralympics at Turin in 2006 and claimed the gold four years later in Vancouver.

Chace was followed in the Athlete of the Month voting by American sit-skier Tyler Walker, who finished with 26 per cent of the vote.

Russian Alpine skier Alexey Bugaev, German Alpine skier Anna Schaffelhuber and Hungarian wheelchair fencer Zsuzsanna Krajnyak were also up for the honour.

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