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Ice Hockey Sledge
A sledge hockey player handling the puck.

Sledge hockey is a sport that was designed to allow participants who have a physical disability to play the game of ice hockey. Ice sledge hockey (also known as sled hockey in the United States) was invented in the early 1960s in Stockholm, Sweden at a rehabilitation center. It is currently one of the most popular sports in the Paralympic Games.[1]

Contents

History

Two men from Sweden designed the sledge for ice sledge hockey in the 1960s because they wanted to continue to play hockey despite their physical disability. Their design included two skate blades on a metal frame that allowed the puck to pass underneath. They completed the ensemble by including two round poles with bike handles for sticks. Although there are many restrictions to the measurements and weight of the sledges used in the Paralympic Games, little has changed from the original design to the ones that exist today.

Despite the initial decline of interest after the invention of sledge hockey, competition between sledge hockey teams started up in 1969 that included five teams out of Europe. In 1981, Great Britain established their first sledge hockey team, and that was shortly followed by Canada in 1982. It was not until 1990 that the United States developed their first ice sledge hockey team and sledge hockey continued to expand when Estonia and Japan developed their teams in 1993. International ice sledge hockey became an official event in 1994 for the beginning of the Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, with Sweden claiming the first gold medal for ice sledge hockey competition. In 1998 the following Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan, Norway won the gold medal as Canada and Sweden took the silver and bronze respectively. For the 2002 Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, the gold medal belonged to the United States with Norway and Sweden finishing second and third. The 2006 Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy saw the gold medal go to Canada, silver to Norway and bronze to the United States. In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, it will be the first time when the tournament is going to be disputed by mixed teams; teams are permitted to have female athletes on their rosters, previously having been only competed by men.[2]

Rules

Essentially all of the regular ice hockey rules that have been implemented and enforced in able bodied ice hockey leagues apply to many ice sledge hockey leagues around the world. The differences that have been created into the game of ice sledge hockey are modified for the athlete and their sledges. The first set of international rules was created in 1990 and was drafted from Canadian rules.

  • The entrance ways to the players’ benches and penalty benches from the ice are designed evenly with the ice so the players can access them without the help of a coach or able-bodied person. Additionally, the surface area inside the players’ benches and penalty benches are made of smooth plastic or ice, which is to avoid any damage to the players’ sledges.

All players are required to have their ice sledge hockey equipment follow the standard that has been set by the HECK (Hockey Executive Committee), including their sledges, sticks, helmet, skates (if applicable), and other protective gear. The sticks for ice sledge hockey players have a curved blade (similar to regular ice hockey) at one end, and generally six to eight picks at the opposite end of the blade for maneuvering and propulsion. Movement is achieved by using the metal teeth as a means to grip the ice and push one forward. The metal picks cannot be overly pointy and protrude farther than 1 cm beyond the stick so it cannot damage the ice or other players.

Carbon sled hockey sticks.jpg

Inline Sledge Hockey

Based on Ice Sledge Hockey, Inline Sledge Hockey is played to the same rules as inline hockey (essentially ice hockey played off ice using inline skates) and is played in a sports hall and not on ice. Inline Sledge Hockey was originally the brainchild of British Paralympian Matthew Lloyd, however it has been developed though the dedication and commitment of several key organisations including the Hull Stingrays Elite League Ice Hockey Team, sports wheelchair manufacturers RGK, the British Sledge Hockey Association, Wheelpower, Paralympians United, and the British Inline Puck Hockey Association.

There is no classification points system dictating who can be involved in play within Inline Sledge Hockey unlike other team sports such as Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby. Inline Sledge Hockey is being developed to allow everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, to complete up to World Championship level based solely on talent and ability. This makes Inline Sledge Hockey truly inclusive. Equipment is exactly the same as for inline hockey with the exception of the sledge and an additional stick.

The first games of Inline Sledge Hockey were played within the Veterans Inline Puck Hockey Tournament held at Bisley, Surrey, England on 19 and 20 December 2009. The games were played between the Hull Stingrays (captained by Nigel Wright) and Grimsby Redwings (captained by Natalie Calthorpe).

See also

References

  • Canadian National Men’s Sledge Hockey Team. (2004). Canadian success in sledge
  • hockey. Retrieved January 27, 2006, from [1]
  • Canadian Paralympic Committee. (2006). Torino 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [2]
  • Hockey Alberta. (2004). Sledge hockey tournaments. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [3]
  • International Paralympic Committee. (2006). Ice sledge hockey. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [4]
  • International Paralympic Ice Hockey Rulebook. (2005). International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved January 17, 2006, from [5]
  • International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. (2003). Promoting excellence and developing opportunities. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [6]
  • It’s The Real Deal. (2005). Paralympic schools program. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [7]
  • Paralympic Sports Association. (2004). Sledge hockey. Retrieved January 17, 2006, from [8]
  • Salt Lake 2002 Paralympics. (2002). Historical records. Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [9]
  • Spokes n’ Motion (2006). Retrieved January 16, 2006, from [10]
  • CanWin Sports(2006). Retrieved November 20, 2006, from [11]
  • Paralympics GB (2009). Retrieved December 23, 2009, from [12]
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