Paralympic gold medalist Josh Sweeney and fellow national sled hockey team member Luke McDermott will host a free introductory sled hockey clinic this Sunday, August 23 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Winterhawks Skating Center. Check-in will begin at 4 pm for registered participants.
Participants with physical disabilities will get a chance to learn about sled hockey and get on the ice. All equipment and on-ice instruction will be provided at no charge. Prior hockey experience is not required, and the clinic is open to all ages. Anyone interested in signing up for the clinic can contact Jill Boeschenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The clinic is first step in creating Portland’s own sled hockey team program, a joint venture between Sweeney and the Winterhawks. Sled hockey allows athletes with congenital or acquired amputations or other physical impairments to enjoy the great sport of hockey.
Sled hockey follows most of the typical ice hockey rules with the exception some of the equipment. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. There are two sticks for each player instead of one and the sticks have metal picks on the butt end for players to propel themselves.
“When I got to Portland, starting a sled hockey team was one of my biggest goals, and this clinic is an exciting first step towards getting the program off the ground,” said Sweeney. “I encourage anyone looking to be active and part of a team to give it a try.”
Sweeney is captain of the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team, and was assistant captain of the United States 2014 Paralympic sled hockey team, and scored the winning goal in the gold medal game against Russia. A recipient of a Purple Heart during his time serving in the Marines, Sweeney went to become the winner of the inaugural Pat Tillman Award for service at ESPN’s 2014 ESPY awards.
McDermott, who like Sweeney, served in the Marines, is a member of the U.S. national sled hockey team. He has represented his country several times in international play, including the 2015 World Championship.