FIERCE. INTENSE. GLORIOUS.
Ice Sledge Hockey (or as it is called in the US: ice sled hockey) is one of the more popular events of the Paralympic games, and it’s easy to understand why. This highly physical sport requires impressive physical strength and fearlessness. In this blog post we explore the sport’s history, equipment, and feature the full version of “Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey” from PBS.
Introduced to the sports world in the early 1960s, Ice Sledge Hockey came to fruition when some Swedish men decided to find a way to play ice hockey despite their physical impairments. They designed sleds and hockey sticks which would allow them to maneuver on the ice while effectively playing hockey.
BASIC GAME PLAY
- An ice sled hockey game is broken down into three periods, with each period lasting for 15 minutes. In between periods is a 15 minute intermission.
- Each team can be comprised of 13 players and 2 goal tenders. Six players from each team are permitted on the ice, including goal tenders.
- If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, a five-minute overtime period begins. The game ends either at the end of the 5 minutes or when the first goal is scored, with the scoring team being the victor. If the game is still tied after this period, Game Winning Shots Procedure comes into place. Three different shooters from each team will take alternate shots until a decisive goal is scored.
AT THE PARALYMPICS
Ice Sledge Hockey first appeared at the 1994 Winter Paralympics in Lillehammer with Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, and Canada competing. Beginning with the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, the introduction of mixed teams allowed women to also compete with men in the event; however, no women competed in 2010. No women are slated to compete in 2014, either.
- The Ice Sledge (or sled) – Built upon blades with a frame high enough off the ice to allow a puck to pass through, the ice sled allows for quickness on the ice. According to the International Paralympic Committee’s website: “Made of aluminium or steel, sledges are 0.6m to 1.2m in length with a curved front end and one of two different seating systems. The sledge is set on two blades, which are usually made of tempered steel and are each 3 mm thick. The puck must be able to pass underneath the sledge. The height of the main frame must be between 8.5cm to 9.5cm above the ice, and the length of the blade may not be more than one-third of the total length of the sledge. The sledge may be equipped with a backrest, but it must not protrude laterally beyond the armpits when the player is properly seated. Straps secure a player’s feet, ankles, knees and hips to the sledge.”
- Sticks – Rather than using one hockey stick, players in Ice Sledge Hockey use two. The sticks serve dual purposes: to propel the players forward on the ice and to handle the hockey puck. On one end is a hooked blade for the puck, while on the other end of the 1 meter stick is a pick used to gain traction on the ice. Of course, certain rules apply to this piece of equipment:
“Each stick has a maximum length of 1m and is made of wood, plastic or aluminium/titanium. The blade has a maximum length of 25cm, except for the goaltender’s blade, which has a maximum length of 35cm. The pick end of the stick must not damage the ice surface or inadvertently puncture or slash other players, so the following rules apply:No part of the pick or teeth may come to a sharp point.
The pick must not extend more than 1cm anywhere beyond the stick.
The pick must have at least six teeth, each with a maximum length of 4mm.
The goaltender may have an additional pick at the base end of his stick. The goaltender may also use an additional stick with a blade or a trapper glove with teeth.” – Retrieved from www.Paralympic.org.
- Protective Gear – Players are required to wear a helmet with a full mask, a protective collar/bib (to protect the throat), and padded gloves. The players are encouraged to wear additional padding.
- Hockey puck – Made of vulcanized rubber or other approved material, the puck is 2.54cm thick, with a diameter of 7.62cm and weighs 156 to 170 grams.
2014 SOCHI PARALYMPIC GAMES
This year eight teams will face off beginning March 8th. The countries participating will be:
- Czech Republic
- United States
All teams will compete on March 8th in preliminary rounds, and the final medal events will take place on Saturday, March 15th.
To gain a bit of insight into this sport, take a look at PBS’ documentary, “Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey.” This film follows the United States Sled Hockey team as they prepare for the Sochi Olympics. You can watch the full version below.