In 2018, Minnesota Hockey, in partnership with the Minnesota Wild, announced the launch of Minnesota's first-ever blind hockey program.
The program is open to players of all ages with visual impairments. Players must register online to participate and will be required to wear full equipment on the ice. A limited supply of equipment may be available for use.
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey hosts weekly ice sessions throughout the season with a focus on teaching basic skating and hockey skills. The program will strive to promote and emphasize the development of sportsmanship, team spirit, increased confidence, pride, and team unity.
Blind Hockey is the same exhilarating, fast-paced sport as ice hockey, with minimal rule changes to adapt with game for players who are legally blind and ensure player safety.
The most significant modification is the sport features an adapted puck that makes noise, and is both bigger and slower than a traditional puck. Players’ levels of vision range from legally blind – approximately 10% vision or less – to totally blind. Typically, totally blind athletes play goal (or defense); lower sighted athletes play defense; and higher sighted athletes play forward. Additional modifications include:
Blind Hockey has been played in Canada since the early 1970’s, and blind players have participated with Minnesota Special Hockey for several years. However, the sport of blind hockey wasn't officially introduced in the U.S. until October 18, 2014 when the first ever Blind Hockey Summit was held in Newburgh, NY. At this event, local players and visiting Canadian players formed two teams and played two structured games, following a try-it session which introduced the sport to many new players. The following spring USA Hockey held a similar event at the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival, in Buffalo, NY to increase awareness of the sport.
Since then, players and programs have sprung up all over the country, making blind hockey one of the fastest growing segments of Disabled Hockey.