Let's Play Sled Hockey!
By Carl Wagenfohr
Photo by Carl Wagenfohr
TAMPA - The chant "Let's Play Hockey" is heard before every Tampa Bay Lightning home game, but on many Sunday afternoons it's Sled Hockey that rules the ice at the Forum in Tampa. While the arena's 18,000 seats are not full of fans, the players' energy and enthusiasm rival that of their National Hockey League namesakes.
Sled Hockey is a fast-paced sport designed for physically and cognitively disabled youth and adults who would otherwise be unable to strap-on a pair of skates. An aluminum sled with blades under its bucket seat replaces skates, and a pair of short sticks with picks on their butt-end are used both to control the puck and propel the sleds.
Uniforms and safety equipment including helmets and pads complete the player's gear. The rules of the sled game are nearly identical to hockey, but with an additional infraction for "t-boning' an opposing player with your sled.
Practices are scheduled on October 25, November 8 and November 22 at the St Petersburg Times Forum in Tampa, starting at 4pm and ending at 6pm. More practices and games will be scheduled in the near future.
The players are coached by Mike Celona, assisted by youth hockey players and coaches from around the Tampa Bay area.
If you have interest in participating or volunteering in the Lightning's Sled Hockey Program, contact Mark Sofia, Director of Community Relations and Youth Development, at 813-301-6769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Sled Hockey Program is supported by the Lightning Foundation and CE Information Services of Bradenton. Participation in is free of charge, including player equipment and ice time.
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