GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It is just like regular hockey, except the players sit on sleds instead of stand on skates.
This weekend, 45 of the best youth sled hockey players are in Grand Rapids for the International Youth Sled Hockey Invitational. The four teams in the running include the Grand Rapids’ Junior Sled Wings, and two other recent U.S. national champions and a team of all-stars from Russia.
The players are male and female, all under 18 years old and have a disability that prevents them from playing stand up hockey.
“These players leave their chairs, leave their legs, leave everything off the ice and they come on and they are hockey players,” explains Space Coast Blast assistant coach Amanda Martori.
“There are no buts about it, this is hockey. It is fast, it is hard and there is checking. They go about it a different way but it is hockey.”
“My mother asked, 'do you want to join this?' and I [said] I don't know about it,” recalls 15-year-old player Jarrett Reynolds. “Then she forced me to do it. I got here and I love it.”
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and the Grand Rapids Griffins Foundation sponsor the Grand Rapids Youth Sled Wings. Admission to all the games at the Patterson Ice Center is free.
For more information, visit Mary Free Bed's website.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.