Capital District sled hockey to challenge RPI

The much-anticipated debut of the Capital District Sled Warriors, STRIDE’s sled hockey team, will take place at the Houston Field House on Friday at 7 pm, when the Sled Warriors take on the RPI men’s and women’s hockey teams. Mike Blabac, goalie on the USA National Sled Hockey Team, will sit with the Sled Warriors, while Andrew Catalon, sportscaster on NBC Affiliate WNYT 13, will call the event.

Sled hockey is a Paralympic sport which allows people with limited or no use of the lower body to compete in a hockey game. They propel themselves using custom hockey sticks that are shortened with picks placed on the end. “Once you are on the ice, it’s just hockey,” said U.S. Paralympian Adam Paige when he recently spoke at a local Paralympics seminar hosted by STRIDE.

The public is encouraged to attend and tickets will be available at the door for $10 for adults and $5 for students and children under 12. Proceeds benefit the sled hockey team and STRIDE Adaptive Sports.

  “We are very excited to kick off our hockey season with a scrimmage against the RPI hockey teams,” said Kim Wilson, founder of the sled hockey team and mother of two sled hockey players.

  “It is an honor for our young men to share the ice with these great athletes,” said RPI Men’s Hockey Coach Seth Appert. “We look forward to the challenge and hopefully we can match the determination and competitiveness on the ice.” John Burke, the women’s coach, added, “Our players are looking forward to the game as well as helping out the community.”

   While sled hockey teams don’t traditionally play against able-bodied, stand up hockey teams, RPI’s hockey coaches and the Capital District Sled Warriors feel the scrimmage will assist in bringing awareness to the Sled Warriors and STRIDE. RPI players will have a chance to practice prior to the game, which will be played in three 15-minute periods.

STRIDE Adaptive Sports is a volunteer non-profit organization providing over 4,000 adaptive sport and recreation lessons annually to children and individuals with special needs. STRIDE has over 250 skilled volunteer sport instructors, serving more than 1,000 families, and offers free programs in 17 different sports and locations. The focus is education in individual lifetime sports. With three employees—two of whom are funded through endowed grants—the annual operating budget is comparatively modest, and funding goes directly to programs. STRIDE is an affiliate member of Disabled Sports USA, Professional Ski Instructors of America, the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, New York Special Olympics, and US Paralympics Sport Club.  STRIDE is recognized as one of the leading adaptive sport programs in the Northeastern United States.

For more information about how you can purchase tickets for this event and how you can support STRIDE, please contact the STRIDE office at 598-1279 or visit http://www.stride.org/.

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