International Friendly at Silver Blades Widnes

GB Sledge Hockey Pic1

Following on from our original post about the International Sledge Hockey School that we posted a couple of weeks ago, Silver Blades Widnes have provided more information about the new community facilities that are being unveiled as part of the event.

Halton Borough Council in partnership with Silver Blades has provided an interactive, sensory ice rink – the only one in the country – and a soft play area which are fully accessible for disabled children and adults.

They will be unveiled on Tuesday evening, September 16, when the Great Britain sledge hockey team take on the Rest of the World at 6pm.

The Council’s Disabled Children’s Service has been working with the team at Silver Blades to develop the fully inclusive facilities and will be setting up opportunities for families and groups of disabled children to go along, have fun and socialise.

The new play areas will available for everyone to use, either as an individual, or part of a family visit, with a group or even for a birthday party.

Matt Lloyd, local Paralympian and Chair of the British Sledge Hockey Association said: “Sledge hockey has always been a key part of the rink in Widnes and it is fantastic that we are able to host an event aimed at developing  international relations at Silver Blades Widnes.  This has been made possible by Halton Council enabling the rink to be a true community facility and supporting its inclusion and sporting agendas.”

Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Council, says: “The Council has always been committed to ensuring the ice rink is fully inclusive for the whole community and have been working closely with Matt to bring out these fantastic new facilities. We’re also pleased to be supporting the development of sledge hockey here, and hope that events like this will attract more and more people to either play or come and watch this great sport.”

Paul Coby, Silver Blades Ice Rink Manager added: “We have world class facilities at Widnes rink and we are delighted to host this International Sledge Hockey event.  As a rink we have worked with the Council to provide a truly inclusive facility and we have worked hard to develop and deliver programmes which enable all the local community to participate in healthy recreational activities.”

The event on Tuesday evening starts at 6pm with the game starting at 6:45pm.  As always, entry is completely free, so come on down to Silver Blades Widnes and give the GB team your full support!

Help For Our Hero

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Doug Hankinson [Far Right] with the rest of the Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey Team

When Doug Hankinson discovered sledge hockey early in 2014, he didn’t realise then how important it would become to him. He left the Royal Engineers in 1999 after having served for 13 years, and was looking for something to replace the rugby that he’d loved to play.

After seeing the coverage of the 2012 Winter Olympics, and catching an episode of Channel 4′s “The Last Leg”, Doug decided to make enquiries about local sledge hockey teams. He was put in touch with Karl Nicholson, captain of the Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey Team, and was on the ice shortly afterwards.

While Doug is one of the newer members of the team, he’s thrown himself into the game completely.

 

It is an art form in its own right.  Learning to balance in the sledge on ice, the physicality that is needed just to move around (working on upper body and cardio).  Learning the techniques for handling the sledge, using the sticks correctly and trying to hit the puck at the same time.  Then to top it all, you play with and against some of the best Paralympic Sledge players in GB…quite a baptism of fire for my first season.

But the one thing he found that was holding him back was the equipment. While all of the BSHA sledge hockey teams have a supply of sledges, padding and sticks that they gladly loan out to new players, most discover a huge improvement in their play when they finally get into a sledge that’s been built to their own specs. But sledges aren’t cheap, with the only current suppliers being outside of the UK, players can be looking at around £5000 for one of their own.

But like all Royal Engineers, Doug decided to find a way to resolve the problem. With some advice from his Manchester Phoenix captain, he applied for a grant from Help For Heroes and was thrilled when his application was approved.

 

The new kit from “Help for Heroes” will help build on the new confidence I’ve already gained and allow greater control of the new sledge.  I have also been using Pro-lite sticks from Draft Wheelchairs, which are wooden but an ideal start, so I’m upgrading to Composite Carbon Sticks.  I also requested better shoulder padding and footwear.  The boots I use are just walking boots and I need better protection with my feet (Triple arthrodesis, both feet), especially if the pick end of the stick gets you!  The confidence of being better protected, better armed and better manoeuvring will hopefully show during training and into the 2015 season.

Doug’s plan now is to get his new equipment ordered and start training with it over the off-season. He already got his first point against the Peterborough Phantoms with an assist on one of Karl Nicholson’s goals and fully intends to increase that number in the new season.

If you’re considering giving sledge hockey a try, but don’t know if it’s for you, Doug’s got some advice:

 

Try it, it may just be the best thing that changes your life.

Who are we to argue with that?

If you’d like to find out more about sledge hockey or find a team near you, drop us an email at communications@sledgehockey.co.uk or find us on Twitter (@SledgeHockey) or Facebook (search British Sledge Hockey).  Special thanks to Help For Heroes for their generous donation.

Newest Kids on the Block

Sheffield Steelkings [Photo courtesy of Paul Woollias]

Sheffield Steelkings [Photo courtesy of Paul Woollias]

On Friday evening, two sledge teams were invited to play a short demo game before an English Premier League (EPL) standing hockey game.

This isn’t unusual as teams quite often get invited to do things like this.  What was unusual was that one of the teams had never played in front of an audience before.

The Sheffield Steelkings are the newest sledge hockey team in the country and intend to take part in the 2015 Planet Ice League.  Friday night was  their big debut, and the first time they had a chance to show people how far they’d come in the short time they’d been together.

Kim McGreal, club chairman, was watching proudly from the bench: “Just six months ago, most of these players hadn’t even been on the ice, certainly not in a sledge.  They’ve been training hard every week, sometimes without a coach or an experienced player to help them, but they’ve carried on regardless.  For the first time on Friday, I truly saw a team, rather than a group of players, and that was the most amazing thing.”

With their brand new uniforms and logo also on display for the first time, the Steelkings were assisted by two other local players from the Kingston Kestrels, Matt Woollias and Matt Clarkson, who offered to come and help out.  Netminder Bryan Hackworth made his official Steelkings debut, although as a GB team member and experienced Kingston Kestrels player, this certainly wasn’t his first time playing.  Also on the ice, albeit on the opposing team, was Manchester Phoenix captain, Karl Nicholson, who’d been instrumental in helping get the team off the ground.

Dean Rhodes, one of the Steelkings players, loved his first experience: “I really enjoyed my ice sledge hockey debut. The thrills and spills left me wanting to play more games in the near future.”

So, congratulations to #20 Bryan Hackworth, #21 James Birchnall, #23 Ryan Lethbridge-Borden, #42 Liam Tingle, #44 David Scivill, #83 Barry Grayson and #86 Dean Rhodes.

You can follow the Steelkings on Twitter (@SteelkingsSH) or on Facebook (SheffieldSteelkings).  The Steelkings practice at IceSheffield on Friday nights from 6-7pm.  Email steelkings@sledgehockey.co.uk for more information.

International Sledge Hockey School at Silver Blades Ice Rink Widnes

On 16th-18th September 2014, Silver Blades Ice Rink Widnes will play host to the International Sledge Hockey School.

The Sledge Hockey School is designed to bring sledge hockey players of varying experience levels together with the best coaches, offering a great opportunity for players to learn new skills and share ideas. Players and coaches are coming from as far away as Norway, Croatia, Slovakia and Austria, and are being joined by a selection of British players. The event is being hosted by Silver Blades Ice Rink Widnes in participation with Halton Borough Council and coordinated by the British Sledge Hockey Association.

For participants, the event will involve sessions delivered by world class coaches and members of the Liverpool John Moores University Sports Science department, with additional support from the British Universities Ice Hockey Association.

The school opens on 16th September and there will be a GB vs The Rest of the World game in the evening. Silver Blades Ice Rink Widnes welcomes spectators to watch the game from 18:00 onwards and offers the use of stadium seating and cafe facilities.

For more information on the event please contact Anne Taylor at Silver Blades Widnes (anne.taylor@silver-blades.co.uk) or Kim McGreal at British Sledge Hockey Association (communications@sledgehockey.co.uk).

For more information on Silver Blades Widnes please go to www.silver-blades.co.uk/page/about_us/Widnes or follow @icerinkwidnes on Twitter.

For more information on British Sledge Hockey please go to www.sledgehockey.co.uk or follow @sledgehockey on Twitter.

Sledge Hockey Exhibition Games and Ice Buckets

Not really two things you’d assume go together, but for the Manchester Phoenix and Sheffield Steelkings teams, they’re inextricably linked!

Each year, the Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey Team and the Sheffield Steeldogs Ice Hockey Team of the English premier League hold their own War of the Roses event before the regular season begins.  A firm fan favourite, both legs (one in Sheffield and one in Manchester) invariably sell out.

This year, they’ve invited the Steelkings and Phoenix Sledge Teams to give a demonstration of our sport before their big games – something we couldn’t be more excited to do.  In fact, for the Sheffield Steelkings, this is an even bigger event as it will be their first public appearance as a team, and the first chance for people to see their brand new shirts.

However, the fun doesn’t stop there.  We’ll let the Sheffield Steeldogs explain:

The ALS Ice Bucket challenge has become an internet phenomenon with people all over the world getting a soaking for charity. The ice hockey community has embraced it with Sidney Crosby setting an example that players and fans around the globe have followed.

With the gauntlet thrown down by the sledge hockey teams of Sheffield and Manchester, the coaches and owners of the Steeldogs and the Phoenix will be getting soaked at centre ice after the War of the Roses games.

This means fans from both sides who are at iceSheffield on Friday September 5th will be able to buy raffle tickets to win the chance of throwing the iced water over owner Shane Smith and player/coach Andre Payette.

50% of the money raised will go to the Sheffield sledge hockey team with 25% going to ALS and 25% to our charity of the year, Isabelle’s Appeal. This give fans a fabulous opportunity to ice Shane and Andre whilst supporting some great causes.

Manchester Phoenix have released a similar press release on their website and confirm that fans at their leg of the game on Sunday September 7th will have the opportunity to ice Neil Morris and Tony Hand.  The money raised in Manchester will be split with 50% going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (the UK equivalent of ALS) and 50% going to the Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey Team.

So pick up your tickets for the events from Manchester Phoenix and Sheffield Steeldogs and get some bonus sledge hockey and ice buckets in the process!

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