RANDOLPH, NJ- Fast paced, high energy, competitive. This is Sled Hockey.
The sport of sled hockey is alive in Randolph with the New Jersey Freeze. They practice and play at Aspen Ice, and they hold their practices at 9:00 PM on Mondays. These athletes are just as committed as those who skate on two legs.
Therules and gameplay are very similar to the regular game of ice hockey. Unlike the hockey you would normally see on TV, these athletes have a physical disability and they skate sitting in a bucket shaped sled. Each athlete uses two shortened hockey sticks with metal picks on one side and a hockey stick blade on the other. The sport was created in the 1960s in Stockholm, Sweden so injured athletes could continue to play a sport.
The team is managed by player-coach Gary Runyon, one of the founding members. Do not mistake these players with being disabled, because they can at times be just as physical as the “able-bodied” players on the ice. “The drive is to be competitive, this is our version of the sport,” said Co-founder Nick Teodoro. “These players love playing hockey and have a competitive edge”.
A few weeks back, the blue and white of the Freeze’s uniforms flashed across the ice as 11 players practiced their puck-handling and shooting, preparing for a tournament against their rivals up in Northford, Connecticut. Of the players that were on the ice, all of them are in wheelchairs, crutches or amputees with various disabilities like Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida
The team has junior national players, new players and everyone in between, even a Paralympian. They have been around for 7 years and play in the Northeast Sled Hockey League, which includes teams as far as Ohio. The Freeze are hosting a league tournament on January 7th and 8th with the best adult teams in the northeast competing. Spectators and new players are always welcome