The Team Jigger Sledge Hockey Program is expanding accessible sport in Red Deer.
After debuting in Lacombe in 2021, the program expanded to Blackfalds, and now to the G.H. Dawe Community Centre in Red Deer last fall.
“The program has been met with great interest and support during these first three years, and it is our intention to grow sledge hockey in other communities across Central Alberta,” Team Jigger Board Director and Central Alberta Sledge Hockey Program Coordinator Ray Wasdal said.
He explained, Sledge, or Para Hockey, is a truly accessible version of the game we all know and love.
“People who are experiencing paraplegia, mobility issues, degenerative conditions, amputation, or coordination issues can strap into a sled alongside able-bodied friends and family for a game of hockey,” Wasdal said. “It’s very inspiring.”
This season, the junior-specific program at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre has received significant participation in the first few months.
“We supply the primary equipment, sledges, and sticks, for all our junior players, plus protective equipment in the event a participant cannot provide their own,” Wasdal said. “Because the kids come from a variety of backgrounds and abilities, we’re all set up for them to try sledge hockey at little to no cost to the parents.”
Sledge hockey protective equipment requirements are similar to regular hockey equipment – players wear helmets with a cage, neck protector, gloves, and elbow pads. Shoulder pads and shin pads are not mandatory, however, they become necessary as the player's skill level increases.
Instead of lacing up skates, players are seated and strapped into an adjustable sled with a bumper at the front and blades directly under the seat. Players use two sticks in tandem - one end is bladed for the left or right and is used to handle the puck, pass, or shoot. On the butt end of the sticks are ice picks, used to propel the player around the ice.
For more information on sledge hockey and Team Jigger, click here.