You have probably heard of wheelchair basketball. Maybe even quad rugby. But sled hockey (or sledge hockey as it is called outside the US)? What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is that?
Well, sled hockey is a sport that allows individuals with disabilities to play and enjoy ice hockey. Sled hockey was invented in Stockholm, Sweden at a rehabilitation center in the early 1960s by a group of people who wanted to continue playing hockey despite their disabilities.
Sled hockey is very similar to ice hockey in terms of rules; the main difference is that participants sit on a sled with two skate blades on the bottom instead of skating on foot. Another difference is that instead of one stick, sled hockey players use two shortened sticks with a pick on one end to maneuver the sled, and a blade on the other to shoot the puck.
Like ice hockey, unless there is a penalty, there are six players on the ice at a time for each team. There are three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie. Sled hockey has the same intensity and action as ice hockey, and anyone who has a disability that would prevent them from playing ice hockey is a candidate for sled hockey. It allows individuals with mobility limitations, such as amputees and people with paraplegia, to play the game of hockey. It does, however, require great upper body strength and balance.
The popularity of sled hockey is picking up in the US. The 4th Annual USA Hockey Sled Classic was held in Pittsburgh November 21-24. It featured 16 teams representing 14 NHL franchises and enjoyed a record turnout as several sled hockey players competed in three different divisions. Also, sled hockey will once again be included in the 2014 Paralympic Games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia in March 2014. At the last Paralympic games at Vancouver B.C. in 2010, the United States won the gold medal in sled hockey and hopes to do the same this year. Below is a small video teasing the full USA Hockey sled hockey instructional video. You can download the full version here.
We want to know — have you ever tried sled hockey? What did you think?