Athletes and students get a taste of sledge hockey
Having played against Ryan Strachnitzki during his minor hockey days, Prince Albert Raiders captain Zack Hayes has kept a close eye on the former Humboldt Broncos blueliner as he’s transitioned into the world of sledge hockey following the team’s bus accident nearly two years ago.
“It’s been cool to see just how much he’s gotten into the sport and how he’s progressed,” Hayes said. “Other than that though, I don’t think anyone on the team had tried out the sport and I hadn’t watched the game before in person.”
Members of the Raiders, the Prince Albert Northern Bears, the Prince Albert Lehner Electric Foxes Bantam AA team and local school students got the chance to play sledge hockey on Monday at the Art Hauser Centre as part of Prince Albert Minor Hockey first ever Para Day.
“It was a lot of fun out there and it was totally different from what we were used to,” Hayes said. “Your feet start to go on you after a while and then once you try and get out of the sled your legs are completely asleep, which is something all of us noticed.”
One of the guest instructors for the event was Tracey Arnold of Saskatoon, who is a goaltender for Canada’s national women’s sledge hockey program and is the first player from Saskatchewan to be a member of the team.
“The national team does a lot of try-it events but I haven’t had the chance to be a part of one here in Saskatchewan, so it’s been pretty cool to be involved in this one,” Arnold said.
“One of the things that people are surprised about when they try the sport for the first time is how much you use your core muscles, which is something that one of the Raiders (Brayden Watts) mentioned afterwards. They also find out quickly how hard it is to stop out there, but I think everyone that gets out in the sled realizes just how fun the sport is.”
Sledge hockey has started to grow within the province over the last few years with teams in Bruno, Cut Knife, Kindersley, Melville, Regina, Saskatoon and Swift Current.
“I think there’s been more awareness about the sport, which has led to more programs in the province,” Arnold said.
“It’s also something that able-bodied athletes can take part in as well at the club level, which makes it a great sport for anyone to try if they have the chance.”