Sled hockey (sledge hockey in Canada and Europe) is a sit-down version of ice hockey for players whose disability prevents them from playing stand-up hockey.
How Is It Played?
Sled hockey is played very much like stand-up hockey. The goal is still to put the puck in the net. Sled hockey players use their arms to power themselves around the ice and their hips to move side-to-side. Like stand-up hockey, there are six players for each team – three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. Substitutes may be made when play is stopped, or on the fly. Play is on a regulation sized ice rink with standard size nets and puck. Checking and high-speed slapshots are common features of the sport. Players and spectators alike experience the same thrills as stand-up hockey. Two able-bodied referees call the game.
Who Can Play?
Sled hockey is played by a wide range of players with a variety of mobility limitations: amputees, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, along with anyone who has a permanent disability that limits participation in stand up hockey.
To play sled hockey, the only requirement is that you have a disability that prohibits you from playing stand up.
Sled hockey is a great form of exercise and fitness. It increases strength and coordination and also conditions the upper body. The balance used to propel, play the puck, and turn and stop gives arms, back and abdominal muscles a workout. Those who play regularly quickly notice an increase in overall strength and balance both on and off the ice.
What Equipment is Needed?
Sleds are usually made of light-gauge aluminum, consisting of a customized bucket to sit in. A backrest can be used depending on the ability of the athlete. A frame supports the bucket, legs and feet, and is mounted on two skate blades attached under the bucket. Straps keep the player secure in the sled.
Athletes with double lower-limb loss tend to have an advantage here, since they can use shorter sleds with no leg supports, resulting in a smaller turn radius.
Instead of one hockey stick, players use two for propulsion, passing and shooting. The sticks may be up to 100 cm long (roughly 3 feet) but are usually between 75-95 cm and can be wood, aluminum, or composite materials. The sticks have metal picks on one end for players to propel themselves. Those with limited grip can have sticks secured to their hands allowing them to participate.
Players are outfitted with a hockey helmet with face mask, gloves, and body protection including shoulder pads, shin guards, elbow pads, neck guard, and hockey gloves.
Goalies wear basically the same equipment but do make modifications to the glove; metal picks are attached to the backside allowing the goalie to maneuver.
Sled hockey has a relatively small number of equipment suppliers to provide the sleds, sticks and picks that are unique to sled hockey. All other hockey equipment that is necessary such as helmets, gloves, etc. can be bought from any other stand-up hockey equipment supplier.
On April 10, the team was crowned the C Division National Champions at the 2016 USA Hockey National Disabled Festival.
Adult Competitive Sled Hockey Participation Requirements
- Shall have a mobility impairment that prevents standing skating.
- Shall be able to participate competitively in a team environment. (checking is allowed)
- Shall be able to utilize provided equipment as is. The only modification allowed on the team sled is the rail length.
- Must provide own equipment if customization is required
- Must be USA Hockey registered skater.
- Must sign USA Hockey release waiver.
- Must be 16 years of age or older.