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Team USA Sledge Hockey Wins World Championship

Photo by Bill Wippert

Photo by Bill Wippert


On Sunday May 3, Team USA Sledge Hockey Team defeated Team Canada in the Gold Medal Game of the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships, 3-0, at the Harbor Center in Buffalo, NY.

The matchup will was a rematch of the 2013 Gold Medal Game in Goyang, South Korea. Canada defeated USA 1-0 in that game to capture the title. Team USA shut out Norway 6-0, on Friday May 1 to make it to the 2015 Gold Medal Game, while Canada defeated Russia 3-2 in their semi-final game.

Sunday’s championship game was a tight scoreless battle through the first two periods before Team USA’s Declan Farmer broke through at the 2:58 mark of the third period. Daniel McCoy added a second goal 4:28 later and finally Joshua Pauls capped off the scoring, with the empty net.

The 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships is the eighth edition of the event. This year marked the third time that the United States has hosted. In 2000, the event was held in Salt Lake City, UT and 2008 it was held in Marlborough, MA. Both USA and Canada swept through their three preliminary round games, before winning their semi-finals games to make it to the Gold Medal Game.

A brief history of sledge hockey is that it is a direct descendant of ice hockey, invented during the early 1960s, at a rehabilitation center in Stockholm, Sweden by a group of Swedes, who wanted to continue playing ice hockey, despite their physical impairment. The sport caught on and by 1969 Stockholm had a five team league that included players with physical impairments and able bodied players.

In 1969, the first international match was held in Stockholm with a local club team taking on a team from Oslo, Norway. During the 1970s teams from both countries played once or twice a year. Several other countries then began establishing teams, with Great Britain in 1981, Canada following in 1982, USA in 1990, and then Estonia and Japan in 1993.

Ice Sledge Hockey became a demonstration sport at the 1976 Paralympic Winter Games in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden and then again at the 1988 Paralympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1994 the sport became an official Paralympic event in Lillehammer, Norway. Since its debut on the Paralympic stage, the sport has become one of the largest attractions for spectators.

Today the sports is governed by the International Paralympic Committee with coordination by the IPC Ice Hockey Technical Committee and follows the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation with modifications. Instead of skates, the players use double blade sleds that allow the puck to pass underneath.

The sled or sledge, is made of aluminum or steel between 0.6 and 1.2 meters in length set on two blades about three millimeters thick. The height of the main frame must be between 8.5 and 9.5 centimeters above the ice and the length of the blade may not be no more than one third the total length of the sledge, allowing the puck to be able to pass underneath. The sledge may be equipped with a backrest, but it must not protrude laterally beyond the armpits when the player is properly seated. Straps secure a players feet, ankles, knees and hips to the sledge.

Players use two sticks which have a spike end for pushing and a blade end for shooting. The sticks have a maximum length of one meter with a blade that can be no longer than 25 centimeters. The pick end of the stick must not damage the ice surface or inadvertently slash or puncture other players. The pick must not extend more than one centimeter beyond the stick and must have at least six teeth no more than four millimeters in length. No pick or teeth may come to a sharp point.

Players are required to wear a helmet with full cage or mask as well as a protective collar or bib. Players are also encouraged to wear protective padding, including shoulder pads, shin guards, elbow pads, and large padded gloves. Goalies wear essentially the same equipment, but also have metal picks added to the heel of their sticks and sewn into the backside of their glove to allow the goalie to maneuver.

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