Are you looking for an ice cool sport which is exciting, exhilarating and so unique it can be enjoyed by disabled and able bodied people together?
Well look no further than para ice hockey, also known as sledge hockey.
What’s this then?
Officially classed as the Paralympic version of ice hockey, the sport debuted at the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games and has grown in popularity ever since.
Who can play?
There is no classification system for para ice hockey at a club level in the UK which means it is fully inclusive, anyone can join in and be a part of your team, giving you an opportunity to play with your friends and family.
At the international level there is a classification system, with the sport played by athletes who have a physical disability.
What’s the aim of the game?
The rules are very similar to ice hockey, but instead of skates, players use double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players also use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.
Each team attempts to outscore its opponent by shooting the puck across the ice and into the opposing team's goal while preventing the opposing team from scoring. Six players from each team take to the ice at one time and the games consist of three 15 minute periods.
What do I need to play?
The sticks for sledge hockey have a blade curved at one end in a manner similar to regular ice hockey and obviously everyone needs a stick to play.
Because of the physical nature of the game, all players are required to wear a helmet with a full cage or mask as well as a protective collar or bib. Players are also encouraged to wear protective padding, including shoulder pads, shin guards, elbow pads and large padded gloves.
Where can I play?
There are currently five sledge hockey clubs in the United Kingdom; Sheffield Steelkings Para Ice Hockey Club, Kingston Kestrels Para Ice Hockey Club, Manchester Mayhem Para Ice Hockey Club, Cardiff Para Ice Hockey Club and Peterborough Phantoms Para Ice Hockey Club.
To find your nearest club simply head to the Para ice hockey website and you’ll find out what options are available.
Anything else I need to know?
We sponsor the Peterborough Phantoms who were victorious in the league for the fourth season in a row last year. Can anyone stop them next season?
How do I find out more?
The Great British Sledge Hockey Association is here to help people get involved in the sport.
Check out their website to find out more.