The Western Mass Knights sled hockey travel team readily accepted an invitation to play in the 2018 Empire State Winter Games, which took place February 1 – 4, 2018, in Lake Placid New York and surrounding communities. Opening Ceremonies take place the evening of February 1 and tournament play took place February 2 – 4.
“The Knights were thrilled to be invited to the Empire State Winter Games,” said Jessica Levine, Program Manager for CHD Disability Resources, which sponsors the Western Mass Knights adult and junior sled hockey teams. “Our athletes played some hard-fought, friendly competition with other sled hockey teams from throughout the Northeast. They played four games throughout the weekend!”
The 2018 Empire State Winter Games is a multi-day sports event. In its 38th year, the Games brought together athletes from across New York State and beyond to compete in more than 30 winter sports events. Last year, more than 2,100 athletes participated.
“The Saranac Lake Civic Center is the site for sled hockey tournament action,” said Levine. “It’s a popular arena for ice sports, with great accessibility. Some of our team stayed overnight in Lake Placid at the Olympic Training Center, which hockey fans will recall as the site of the historic ‘Miracle On Ice’ game. In 1980, the U.S. Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey team beat the heavily-favored and defending gold medalists, the Soviet Union, in a medal-round game for the ages, and then advanced to win the Gold Medal.”
Levine points out that members of the Knights paid their own way to attend the Empire State Winter Games, and she welcomes donations to help with costs related to the team’s trip. “Hockey fans and other generous members of the community are invited to support the Western Mass Knights by sending donations to CHD Disability Resources to help defray the cost of transportation and lodging,” she said. “Visit CHD.org, click Make a Gift and Select CHD Disability Resources. There’s an option to direct your donation to the Knights. Thank you!”
Sled hockey was invented at a Stockholm, Sweden, rehabilitation center in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes who wanted to continue playing hockey despite their disabilities. The game follows most typical ice hockey rules, but players sit in specially designed sleds with two hockey skate blades mounted on the bottom. Players use two sticks, each with a standard blade on one end for passing and shooting and metal picks on the butt end for propelling themselves. Goalies have metal picks sewn into the back of their gloves that allow them to maneuver.
Sled hockey continues to grow in popularity for players and spectators in the U.S. and internationally. In March, the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team will play in the Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Each year, CHD Disability Resources serves 500 persons throughout Western Mass who have physical and or intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities to get involved in activities that would not otherwise be available to them. Every program we offer—from adaptive sports to family social activities—emphasizes access and ability. www.chd.org/dr
Founded in 1972, Center for Human Development (CHD) is a nonprofit, CARF-accredited organization providing a broad range of high quality, community-oriented human services to 25,000 children, adolescents, adults, and families each year. The organization is dedicated to promoting, enhancing and protecting the dignity and welfare of people in need. www.chd.org