Although the Sochi Paralympics have ended, the excitement continues for many of the sports featured in Sochi. We’ve kept our eyes on the events this winter and one sport we were really excited about is sled hockey! Played like regular hockey but with a few differences, this sport still has the same intensity and passion that makes regular hockey a fun sport to watch!
Sled hockey was first added to the Paralympic program in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway. Just like regular hockey, sled hockey is played on ice. But unlike regular hockey, sled hockey is play on well, sleds. These sleds have double blades on the bottom. And instead of one stick, players use two sticks, each with spikes on the bottom that they use to move their sleds. Other than that, it’s no different from regular hockey.
Just like regular hockey, the game is played with six players out on the ice; three forwards (a center and two wingers), two defenders and one goalie. The forwards are the guys who rush the opponents first. The guys on defense are the second-to-last line of defense and the goalie? Well, if the team loses, he gets all the blame.
All joking aside, if you like watching the Blackhawks play, we believe you would like this sport, too. These guys are competitors. Just think the movie “Murderball”, but with slightly less aggression and on ice. I say “slightly less aggression” for a reason. These guys are still competitors. There’s still hitting, checking, shooting, goalie saves and the general rowdiness and intensity that an NHL team fighting for the Stanley Cup displays.
In our previous Paralympic blog, we mentioned a few athletes to watch during the games. For sled hockey, we discussed Steve Cash of Overland, Missouri. Cash is a veteran of the USA Sled Hockey team, having won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Paralympics and led the USA to a gold in the 2010 Paralympics. Unlike 3 of the athletes we profiled, Cash is not a veteran. Instead, he had cancer when he was a boy and had his foot amputated. That doesn’t mean he’s not important to the team. A hot goalie can mean the difference between gold and fourth place, after all.
Two more names you should consider are Josh Sweeney (left wing) and Rico Roman. Unlike Cash, both men are indeed veterans who lost their legs in combat to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Sweeney lost both legs after stepping on one while Roman lost one in a Humvee explosion. Neither players participated win the Olympics in 2010, but expect them to be a big part of the USA’s hopes for a repeat this year.
Another name you should know is not the name of a player, but of a club. You’ve probably heard of the USA Warriors. They’re an ice hockey club made up of veterans, both regular and sled, who have made news skating with the Chicago Blackhawks. The organization trains men and women in the sport of regular and sled hockey as a rehab tool. Their bond with the Blackhawks transcends the sport of hockey and fits most exceptionally with our mission of disability awareness.
Sled hockey is an exciting and intense sport, which is more than worthy of your eyeballs. When watching it, you’ll be amazed at the feats of athleticism and passion put on display by the players. The Paralympics were competitive; if you want to continue watching some good hockey, give sled hockey a try. You won’t be disappointed.
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