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VA Western New York Healthcare System

 

What is Sled Hockey?

Photo of Veterans in their sleds ready to play sled hockey.

Patrick Welch, first row, second from the left.

Monday, September 16, 2013

For anyone who has played or is a fan of hockey, sled hockey is a whole new level of enjoyment.
 
I have been involved in hockey for over 55 years and had never heard of sled hockey until January 2012 when the Buffalo VA Recreation Manager, Pam Kaznowski asked me if I wanted to try it. I said, what the heck is sled hockey?
 
So I went to Riverside Rink got set up with a sled and equipment, and loaded myself into a sled. Then I was shown how to propel myself with the two hockey sticks provided. We all flopped around falling to the left and right sides and needed help to get back up. When I got home my wife asked, "How was it?" My reply was; I never realized how much I missed the ice rink and equipment.
 
Ever since that day in January 2012 I have once again been able to play the sport I have loved my entire life. The feeling of being on the ice with my fellow veterans, playing games and travelling to tournaments in Dallas and Philadelphia has been an outstanding experience for all of us. We have also played against the USA Warriors program based out of Walter Reed in Washington, DC. These games had warriors from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who have served in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq competing against each other. The entire weekend I had goose bumps thinking about how sled hockey had brought several generations of warriors together in a friendly environment to just play hockey. It did not matter whether you had 2 good legs, 1 good leg or no legs; the atmosphere was electric when we faced off against each other.
 
The Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Program is by the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, Buffalo Sabres Alumni, National Fuel Gas, and VA Recreation Therapy Department. All your equipment is provided at no cost to the Veteran.
 
I would encourage all my fellow Veterans to give sled hockey a try. It is great exercise; great fun and you get to hang out with some old and young warriors who love the sport of hockey.
 
Contact Pamela Kaznowski at 862-6814.
 

Patrick W. Welch, PhD
U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

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