What’s in the Game?
Sledge hockey is a team sport that incorporates almost all of the same rules as regular ice hockey. It is fast, competitive and very physical which makes it one of the most popular spectator sports in the Paralympic Winter Games. Players sit on specially designed sleds, or ‘sledges’ that rest on two skate blades attached under the seat. Two sticks are used to pass, stickhandle and shoot the puck. Used for more than just moving the puck, these sticks are also equipped with metal picks on the ends to help players maneuver their sledges around the ice.
Almost surprisingly, sledge hockey was not invented in Canada. Its origins can be traced back to Sweden in the 1960s where athletes at a rehabilitation centre developed the game so they could continue playing hockey. Today, sledge hockey is played in more than a dozen countries around the world and Canada boasts one of best teams in the sport. Sledge hockey has been a male dominated sport since its creation, but at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver teams will be given the option to add females to their rosters for the first time.
There are currently nine teams scattered across Alberta. Hockey Alberta along with the Alberta Sport, Recreation Parks & Wildlife Foundation has taken an active interest in the sport. Together with members of the sledge hockey community, a Provincial Advisory Committee (PAC) has been established and is working to make the game bigger and better.
***Want to see more on sledge hockey? Look for the documentary, “Sledhead”. It follows Canada’s national sledge hockey team as they overcome all sorts of obstacles to become the 2008 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Champions.***