Rink Management Services To Introduce Sled Hockey to the Wichita Ice Center
Wichita, KS, DATE, 2100 - Sled ("sledge") hockey, the growing new sport for the disabled, will be introduced to the Wichita Ice Center in April by managers Rink Management Services, it was announced today.
Sled (or "sledge" hockey) originated in Sweden when two men who had lost the use of their legs designed a special sled that would allow them to continue to play hockey. The original sled had two skate blades on a metal frame that allowed the puck to pass underneath and 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 sleds that exist today.
Carl Sasyn, Rink Management Services Regional Manager, said his company has been considering sled hockey at the WIC for a while, and has been working directly with USA Hockey to make it happen.
"Part of our mandate from the City of Wichita is to reach out to the community and give as many citizens as possible the ability to enjoy the Ice Center," he said. "With the help of USA Hockey, we are able to bring in the disabled who are no longer able to skate - both former hockey players and potential players - and give them an opportunity they might not get elsewhere."
USA Hockey will provide 24 sleds and sticks for the introductory session, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 3:30 to 7:00 pm at the WIC. It is open to all ages and genders. Preliminary sign-up is requested.
The program will feature Norm Page, a volunteer in USA Hockey’s disabled section as the USA Hockey National Sled Representative. Norm has been all over the country assisting new programs in getting started. Norm resides in Buffalo, New York and is a past president of the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Association. Norm first got involved in sled hockey when his son Adam started playing, and Adam Page was recently a member of the 2010 gold medal winning USA Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.
J.J. O'Connor, USA Hockey's director of disabled skating, said he is delighted that RMSC is taking the initiative to bring the sport to Wichita, particularly because of its proximity to the Robert Dole Veteran's Hospital.
"Sled hockey is a great participatory sport for anyone," he said, "But if we can serve the community - and our disabled veterans at the same time - that makes us twice as happy."
Conversations with community activists about the program have been positive.
Mark Stever, a board member of Wheelchair Sports, himself active in many disabled sports, said he believed sled hockey would be "well-received and beneficial to the whole Wichita community," and offered to work with Rink Management Services as the date gets closer.
Veteran's Hospital representatives also indicated that such a program might work for some of their patients, and RMSC is pursuing contacts with groups like the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
For more information on the program at WIC, or to get involved, please call Shane Brydges, Hockey Director at WIC, at (316) 337-9199 ext. 115.
For more information on sled hockey around the country, visit USA Hockey at www.USAhockey.com