Disabled Hockey: Everyone can play | FOX21Online.com 10/29/09
ST. PAUL - It's a way for those to play the game they love when they never thought they could. And now they may play in Duluth.
There are exciting developments to an emmy nominated story we first brought you this past spring.
Due in part to that broadcast, the 'Minnesota Special Hockey' program is growing. As are the 'sled hockey' teams. Proving once again that ours is a game everyone can play.
"11 year old Remington Veilliux could not play hockey. A rare brain condition kept him off the ice. A desire to skate but no northland league sent him south to the twin cities. A seven hour car trip for one game with the 'Special Hockey League.'
"It'll be nice to have something for him at home." Remington's mother Sherry spearheads the new I–Falls 'Border Breakers.' Along with Rogers, there are now two new teams in the league.
"We had three teams last year," says Minnesota Disabled Hockey director, Toni Boelter. "Now we have five teams, both of them, i'm happy to say are out of metro."
The hope is to have two more teams next season. Moorhead and Duluth. Toni tells FOX 21 that a Duluth area family is expressing interest in bringing the program to the Twin Ports.
"I know there's players up there. You can't tell me there's not."
Crusading for exposure, the September 24th 'Disabled Hockey Day with the Minnesota Wild' helped. Wednesday night's broadcast of that event on the Wild pre–game show is what caught the Duluth family's attention.
"This night will probably take disabled hockey farther than I could have in the next five years."
In addition to selling programs and collecting $20,000 in donations, players hit the ice during intermissions.
Luke Schmitz brought out the pre–game flag.
"I was in Iraq, we were deployed in 2005. I was injured july 26, 2006. I was injured by a secondary IED. Which is, you hit one, you jump out and they have another one."
The 25 year old Perham native never played hockey. Not until he was rehabbing at fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
"I decided I didn't want to go to physical therapy today. So, I go to sled hockey, see what it's all about."
Impressed by its competitiveness, Luke used the sport as motivation.
"You've got something to work towards, you know you're not useless. Nobody is useless."
After returning to Minnesota, he joined the Minnesota sled hockey team, which later won the national championship.
Success and growth are filling what toni calls an 'explosive year.' Moving forward, they're still hoping for more. More teams, more players. More Lukes. More Remingtons.
"Hopefully, gain some more... Know it's out there now and want to participate. Hopefully just can grow it every year," says Sherry.
"I just think the sky's the limit," says Toni.Wow. I didn't remember that MN won the national championship!