A league of their own

Sledge hockey con­tin­ues to grown in pop­u­lar­ity, with Wool­wich mov­ing to league play

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - ALI WIL­SON

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.

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