What is Sledge Hockey?
Taken from the British Sledge Hockey Association (B.S.H.A.) website:
Sledge Hockey is a variant of ice hockey and can be played on and off ice, using sledges to allow participants to move about the rink at high speeds hitting a puck travelling at speeds of up to 100kph. Players sit in adapted sledges, propelling themselves with sticks adapted to allow propulsion in a manner similar to skiing. As players are strapped to a sledge everybody has the same restrictions, regardless of whether or not the player has a disability.
In basic terms, it’s almost identical to the hockey you know and love, but with players sitting down instead of standing up. The majority of IIHF rules still apply, with only a few differences; the main addition being a penalty of Teeing, which is charging another player with the front of your sledge.
It’s a Paralympic sport and teams can be made up of both males and females, although at the moment, most international level teams are primarily male. But unlike a lot of sports, sledge hockey can be played equally by people who are able-bodied or disabled.
Who Can I Support?
There are currently 4 sledge hockey teams within the 2014 Planet Ice Sledge Hockey league; Peterborough Phantoms, Kingston Kestrels, Manchester Phoenix and the newly added Cardiff Devils. The format of the league has each team play 3 home games and 3 away games during the season.
Last year’s league champions were Peterborough, but this year it could be any of the teams taking home the trophy.
In addition, there are a lot of recreational teams around the country, including several brand new ones that are in the process of being set up.
What about the International Team?
Team GB is made up of players from each of the UK teams. While they sadly didn’t make qualify for the 2014 Paralympics, it hasn’t slowed them down in any way and they’re still intending to make the 2018 games. The growth of sledge hockey in the UK can only help them.
This is a video about the team’s push to make the 2014 Paralympics.
Where and When Can I Watch?
The best part about sledge hockey is that all of the games are free to watch. Yep, absolutely free.
The 2014 season is due to start this weekend (Saturday 10th May 2014) with the Kingston Kestrels playing the Manchester Phoenix.
- 10-May: Kingston Kestrels Manchester Phoenix
- 17-May: Peterborough Phantoms Cardiff Devils
- 24-May: Cardiff Devils Kingston Kestrels
- 07-Jun: Peterborough Phantoms Kingston Kestrels
- 14-Jun: Manchester Phoenix Peterborough Phantoms
- 05-Jul: Cardiff Devils Manchester Phoenix
- 12-Jul: Manchester Phoenix Cardiff Devils
- 19-Jul: Kingston Kestrels Peterborough Phantoms
- 02-Aug: Cardiff Devils Peterborough Phantoms
- 09-Aug: Manchester Phoenix Kingston Kestrels
- 16-Aug: Kingston Kestrels Cardiff Devils
- 23-Aug: Peterborough Phantoms Manchester Phoenix
How Can I Find Out More?
Thanks to Karl Nicholson of Manchester Phoenix/Team GB for his help.