Sled hockey slides into new ice arena
The National Ability Center (NAC) and the Park City Ice Arena are teaming up to bring the first hockey tournament ever to the new Park City Ice Arena. The Park City Sled Hockey Tournament will feature four of the nation’s top teams, including Colorado Sacramento, New England and the NAC’s own Utah Golden Eagles from March 30- April 1.
"We’re really excited to bring it to Park City and the Park City Ice Arena, " said NAC program director Lauren Artesani. "We’ve really worked hard to make sure the rink accessible."
The tournament, with free admission, will treat audiences to first-rate sled hockey talent. According Artesani, some of the team members are also members of the U.S. Paralympic Hockey Team and will be arriving in Park City straight from competing in the Paralympic Games in Turin, Italy.
The event was previously held at the County Ice Arena in Murray, but once the Park City rink was completed, Artesani said the two entities were committed to bringing the tournament to the area permanently.
The Utah team features a mixture of disabled and able-bodied players that use sleds mounted on runners to propel themselves across the ice, rather than a pair of skates. Two short hockey sticks are used interchangeably for balance, shooting and defense. The team consists on players from different cities, such as Salt Lake and even as far away as Brigham City. The team also allows women, and starts Salt Lake’s Hope Bevilhymer at the goalie position. Parkites will be interested in watching Park City’s own teen phenom J.C. Weeks, who is a member of the youth U.S. national team and a Paralympic hopeful in 2010. Jhon Bryan, a member of the Golden Eagles and the youth national team, who trains at the NAC will also be competing.
"I would love people to come support the Utah team," said Artesani. "This is fast-paced, full-contact hockey."
Artesani also added that as a Paralympic sport, the tournament seems to fit at the new arena, because the NAC views itself as a steppingstone to the Games.
Besides supporting local and national talent, Artesani also hopes to expose locals to the sport of sled hockey.
" I would love people to come out and watch and get into the game and see what it’s all about," Artesani said.
Unlike some disabled sports, everyone can participate in sled hockey at the same level of ability, so families can compete together. It is also an ideal sport for people with recent lower body injuries or even those with tired legs from skiing.
On Saturday mornings from 9:30 -10:30 a.m., the Park City Ice Arena holds an instructional sled hockey class, where novices can try the sport with the help of the Golden Eagles’ coach and various team members. Artesani hopes that the tournament will generate more interest in the recreational class.
The action will start with a double header on Thursday night, followed by play all day Friday and finals on Saturday.
"It’s the first time and its sled hockey and it’s wonderful," Artesani said."
Park City Ice Arena Sled Hockey Tournament Schedule:
March 30- Thursday night- 7:45- 9 p.m. Colorado/Sacramento
9:15 -10:30 p.m. National Ability Center (NAC)/ New England
March 31-Friday- 7:30-8:45 a.m. NAC/Sacramento
9:00-10:15 a.m. New England/Colorado
7:30-8:45 p.m. Sacramento/New England
9:00-10:15 p.m. Colorado/NAC
April 1- Saturday- 8:30- 9:45 a.m. 3 &4 teams
10-11:30 a.m. finals 1&2 teams
11:30-11:45 a.m. awards
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