WOODBURY, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota’s first blind hockey team took the ice Sunday for the first practice in their inaugural season.
Volunteer guides skated alongside the 20 registered players, as they got a feel for the ice and the slightly modified aspects of the adaptive version of the game.
“Regardless of your abilities, we believe hockey is for everybody,” said Toni Gillen, Minnesota Hockey Disabled Hockey Director.
The rules of blind hockey do not vary much from those of regular hockey. The most significant modification is the puck, which makes noise as it moves across the ice and is bigger and slower than the traditional puck.
“Today, there’s much more opportunity for athletics for all,” said Sharon Deziel. “And that’s what today is all about.”
Deziel’s husband Shawn Hewson is legally blind. While he has skated before, he has never skated with an adaptive program.
“He hasn’t had this big of a grin in a long long time,” she said.
The team consists of players of all ages and all levels of skating experience.
“There’s other people out there who want to play hockey and even though they’re blind it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the ability to do that,” said blind athlete Matt Scherber.
The season goes through March and consists of practice once per week. The team does not have any games on their schedule.
The Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey team is a partnership between the NHL franchise and Minnesota Hockey.