Para Ice Hockey (Sledge Hockey)
Para ice hockey (also known as Sledge hockey) is a version of ice hockey played by athletes with a lower extremity disability. Players use a two-bladed sledge as well as sticks with spikes at one end for propulsion and curved blades at the other for shooting. Canada is a world power in the game, and has won medals at all the Paralympic Games except 2002 and 2010.
Para ice hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is a version of ice hockey played by athletes with a lower extremity disability. Players use a two-bladed sledge as well as sticks with spikes at one end for propulsion and curved blades at the other for shooting. Canada is a world power in the game, and has won medals at all the Paralympic Games except 2002 and 2010.
The sport was developed by three Swedish players on a frozen outdoor rink in Stockholm in 1961. It grew rapidly, with Canada first participating in international competition in 1976.
Canada sent a team to the inaugural sledge hockey tournament at the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer and won the bronze medal. The team again won bronze at the world championships in 1996, and followed that success with a gold medal performance in 2000.
Still, Paralympic gold eluded them until 2006 when, at the Games in Torino, Italy, Team Canada emerged victorious in the men's sledge hockey tournament against Norway. After a difficult time in round robin play, the team qualified for the gold medal round, where they defeated Norway 3–0. The team repeated its gold medal performance against Norway at the world championships in 2008.
Canada was unable to repeat this success on home soil at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Though they began the tournament in a strong position with victories over Italy, Sweden and Norway, their loss to Japan in the semi-finals placed them in the bronze medal game against Norway, where they were defeated 2–1.
At the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Canada once again got off to a great start. They had a perfect 3–0 record in the round robin, with a 10–1 win over Sweden, 4–0 win over Norway and a narrow 1–0 win over the Czech Republic. The Canadians struggled to score in the semifinal, however, and lost 0–3 to the United States . The semifinal loss set up a bronze medal rematch with Norway. While Norway had defeated Canada in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada was victorious at the 2014 Sochi Games. Billy Bridges scored two goals and Corbin Watson made 10 saves for the shutout as Canada beat Norway 3–0 to win the bronze medal.
In 2016, the International Paralympic Committee decided to rename and rebrand the sports under its jurisdiction. Since November 2016, sledge hockey has been officially known as para ice hockey.