Blog Post by Jeff Thompson
Have you ever wanted to play Hockey? Learn how to skate on ice? Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey has given me that opportunity as well as many others. You can join us on the ice and learn all about skating and playing this adaptive sport. It does not matter if you never skated before or you played hockey before. We all got started somewhere and with Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey and the Hendrickson Foundation, skating and playing hockey can open the door to a great sport and meeting new friends on the ice. #HockeyChangesLives
I played hockey as a kid and through my high school years and after I lost my central vision at 36, I never considered the possibility of lacing up the skates and playing hockey. That all changed back in December of 2019 when I signed up to play on the Minnesota Wild Hockey Team.
I went out and got myself some skates and checked with the coaches about what I actually needed to play. They said they had some shoulder pads, gloves and a helmet. I picked up some shin guards, breezers, elbow pads and some hockey socks along with a supporter. I got most of this at a used sporting goods shop and paid a fraction of the costs. My skates I did get brand new, however, I got a last year’s model and saved on the costs.
Everyone was very encouraging when I showed up and yet that first step onto the ice was a very nervous moment for me. I stepped and then glided. I pushed off and glided with the other skate and continued. I was skating and although I fell here and there, I could feel the spirit of hockey and skating coming back to me.
There were others on the ice at all different levels of skill and we divided the rink up so the beginners could learn more about skating and on the other end of the rink, we started skating drills. Sometimes we only remember the fun and exciting parts because I had almost totally forgot about drills.
5 weeks later and some open skating at my local indoor-rink, I am looking forward to every Sunday down at the Tria Center rink in St. Paul and doing drills, playing with the guys and gals and having a blast.
If you want to talk to someone about joining the Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey program you can go to the Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey web site and find out more about the opportunities available through this wonderful program.
You may be wondering what Blind Hockey is all about, and believe me, I was curious as well. Here is some information from the web:
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
- Typically, totally blind athletes play goal (or defense); lower sighted athletes play defense; and higher sighted athletes play forward.
- The puck is bigger, slower and makes noise compared to a traditional puck so the players can locate it.
- Custom 3 foot high nets are used rather than the traditional 4 foot nets to keep the puck low and near the ice so it can make noise and be tracked aurally.
- Teams must complete one pass in the attacking zone prior to being able to score. This provides both the low vision defense and the goalie an extra opportunity to track the puck.
- An on-ice official uses a different whistle to indicate that a pass has been completed and the attacking team is eligible to score.
- Tag-up off-sides is used with the assistance of verbal communication from on ice officials. The game is played with standard IIHF safety protocols including no-touch icing, and crease violations to ensure utmost player safety.
- All players must wear full protective gear including face mask.
MISSION: Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey is dedicated to providing children and adults with vision impairments the opportunity to participate in ice hockey. The program will focus on basic skating and hockey skills. We strive to promote and emphasize the development of sportsmanship, team spirit, increased confidence, pride, and team unity.
If you are interested in finding out more about Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey and all that the program has to offer, check out the Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey web site and hopefully we will be lacing up the skates and hitting the ice. See you there! #HockeyChangesLives
Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Career Resources for the Blind and Visually Impairedand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.