VERNON — The Vernon Rotary Club recently met and spoke with 32-year-old Highland Lakes resident Mike Szymczak, who has made sled hockey his passion.
Born with Spina Bifida, he uses a wheelchair to get around but speeds much faster in his hockey sled propelled by two short hockey sticks with picks on the end.
After getting started at South Mountain Arena with the N.J. Devils Youth Hockey junior sled team, he moved to the adult league and now wears a Rangers jersey.
Anyone interested in trying out the sport can contact him at email@example.com
Sled hockey is very similar to “stand-up” hockey in terms of the concept and the rules. The main difference is that instead of skating, the participants are on sleds and they are either pushed or propel themselves using picks on the ends of their two hockey sticks.
Anyone with a disability that prevents them from playing “stand-up” hockey is a candidate for sled hockey. The player must have enough use of his or her arms to be able to use a stick, but if needed, there are sleds that are designed for pushing. All the player has to do is pass, shoot and score!
Equipment for the sport of sled hockey consists of a cushioned seat mounted on a tubular sled that has two blades and a center pivot underneath. The player sits 4 inches above the ice on the sled and is secured into the sled with Velcro straps. The player uses 2 sticks, one for each hand and metallic picks on the butt end of sticks provide the player with a means by which to propel himself or herself.
The New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club invites prospective players to come to their regularly scheduled practices and get out on the ice. Equipment can be provided so there is no cost to parents to see if their child might “LOVE IT”! Practices are usually Friday night at 6:45 pm for 1-hour during hockey season.
For more information, call 973-731-7177 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.