The 13th Annual USA Disabled Hockey Festival will be held April 6-9, 2017 in San Jose, California. Five teams from Minnesota are set to attend the festival, which is being hosted by USA Hockey, the Pacific District, California Amateur Hockey Association and the San Jose Sharks.
As the largest disabled hockey event of its kind, the USA Disabled Hockey Festival brings together all of the disabled hockey disciplines in one location. The mission of the Festival is to provide a fun and exciting weekend of hockey in a grand event as well as promote and grow disabled hockey throughout the country.
“The USA Disabled Hockey Festival is an amazing opportunity for our Minnesota players to gather with teams from across the country to celebrate the sport they all love,” said Minnesota Disabled Hockey Director Toni Gillen. “The world of disabled hockey is a closely connected family, and this is an opportunity each year, to not only participate in games, but also to see the friends our teams have made throughout the years.”
The Minnesota Warriors, who claimed the titles at both the A & B divisions in last year’s festival, will be sending one team to the festival this weekend. There will also be four sled hockey teams at the event including the youth and adult teams from both Hope, Inc. and Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey.”
“This will be our junior team's third year competing at Nationals, but for one of our players, it is the first time to be able to get off the sidelines and actually compete and play in a sport instead of being a team manager,” said Hope, Inc. President Adair Grommesh. “A dream come true realizing that hockey IS for everyone!”
For the Hope, Inc. adult team, the USA Hockey Disabled Festival marks the reward at the end of a long journey. Many of the adults on the team played stand up hockey prior to their injuries and have waited over 11 years for the adult program to grow to a level where it can enter competitions.
“We at HOPE Inc are so excited to provide the opportunity for them to play hockey again--playing seated in a sled and to be able experience the thrill of competing in the game of hockey against other teams from across the country,” said Grommesh.
The Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey team is making some history of its own as well. This will be the first time its development team will compete in the festival’s Youth A division.
“We are so proud of the programs that have developed here in Minnesota, creating the largest disabled hockey program in the U.S.,” said Gillen. “The dedication of these programs to helping athletes of all ages and abilities will be on display throughout the festival in San Jose and will also allow us to showcase our sled teams at the NHL Sled Hockey Classic in Minnesota this coming fall.”
To follow the Minnesota teams throughout the USA Disabled Hockey Festival, click here.
USA Hockey, in partnership with HockeyTV, will provide live streaming coverage of all games taking place at Solar4America Ice, including the Sled Hockey National Championship. Fans interested in following the USA Hockey Sled Hockey National Championship can do so online at Nationals.USAHockey.com.