What Hockey Lockout?
Hockey fans it has been quite a dry spell. How long has it been since Winnipegger’s have roared “Go Jet’s GO!” Too long my friends. As the lockout drags on and the hope of even a shortened season grows dim, I turn your attention to sledge hockey. I saw this great article go by in The New York Times called In Sled Hockey, a Slower Pace but Hard Shots and Hits. It’s not going to bring back NHL flavour to Hockey Night in Canada but it’s certainly exciting.
More and more people are starting to wake up to the fact that sports in the disabled community is played first and foremost by athletes. They’re recognizing that these athletes are talented and exciting to watch.
The Northeast Sled Hockey League is funded by parent NHL teams. Happily they are unaffected by the lockout. The league is unusual in that most sledge hockey is played with an eye towards the Paralympic Games on national teams. It’s exciting to see the sport growing! There are six teams that play in the league. Most teams boost their game days by participating in tournaments as the league season offers only 8 regular season games plus playoffs.
Fun fact: the Northeast Sled Hockey League is co-ed. Sara Tabor plays really aggressive hockey, lives on Long Island and works in Manhattan. “They’ll say: ‘She’s a girl! Why does she get to hold?’ The refs never call anything,” Tabor says gleefully, “You get in guys’ heads.” Sara is lighting up her rookie season and I look forward to watching her play as her sledge hockey career continues. The Vancouver Winter Olympics was the first time that women were allowed onto the sport roster since its debut in 1994.
Dominic Larocque is a major player on the Canadian sledge hockey team and participated in the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary early this December. A wounded veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces he joked in this article (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=647238) that hockey and sledge hockey have everything in common including the Team Canada vs. the U.S. rivalry.
If the NHL keeps this up I may end up founding a sledge hockey team of my own! Who’s with me?!
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