A league of their own
Sledge hockey continues to grown in popularity, with Woolwich moving to league play
SLEDGE HOCKEY IS BACK in the township for another season, with a shift from recreational to league play.
The Woolwich Sledge Hockey team, The Thrashers, hit the ice last weekend to kick off their 2017-2018 season.
WSH, a member of the Ontario Sledge Hockey Association, contributes to the development of the sport of sledge hockey through a range of programs designed for any persons with disabilities, young and old.
With 21 players, the junior development team will be entering into league play. Although the schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, Keith Metzger, head of hockey operations for the Thrashers, is guessing they will be a part of the West- ern Division, which will encompass Buffalo, Windsor, Hamilton, London and possibly a team from Mississauga.
“This is a big step for us, moving from recreation to having a league,” said Metzger.
The club is inclusive of both a junior development and intermediate team, encompassing a total of 34 players practising together from the season’s start in early September through to mid-April.
“It is getting pretty crowded out there because we have players, players being pushed and coaches,” he explained. “With how it is growing, eventually we are going to have to probably do a little more ice time and divide the teams out a bit.”
The team draws in players from a fairly large area, seeing people travel from outside the townships, including Mount Forest, Guelph, Cambridge and Kitchener, to be a part of the club.
Although the ice is getting full, Metzger says the more the merrier and encourages anyone who is interested in participating in either junior development or intermediate level teams to reach out to the team.
Just this year, the club added an additional four junior development players, with hopefully another who is waiting for a sled.
“We take people pretty well anytime they want to come out – we try and accommodate everyone,” he said. “They might not be able to get on the ice right away because we might not have a sled ready for them – right now we don’t have any sleds in waiting, everything has been booked out so we have to buy a couple more, so it is a little bit of an expense – but we don’t like to see players not be able to play.”
Just about every month they are out fundraising to help supplement the costs of sleds, equipment and ice time.
Metzger says they are always accommodating to people that would like to volunteer with the team. Offering places both on and off of the ice to support the team, he says in the past they have even been able to provide community hours to mature students who have helped out.
“This year we might be needing a new pusher. We are always looking for volunteers or people who would like to help out,” he said.
In addition to the league, after their successful go at last year’s tournaments, Metzger said the teams will be returning to two this season. They will be heading to Brampton in November and to the London Blizzard Invitational Sledge Hockey Tournament in late January.
Peter (rear) and Christy (front) from the Thrasher’s at their opening practice of the 2017/2018 sledge hockey season at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Saturday afternoon.