|All the athletes and coaches. SoCal athletes are in white, and NorCal are in black.|
June 9, 2012. That date will go into hockey history because the very first officially registered sled hockey game took place at LA Kings Icetown Riverside.
NorCal sent six kids out out (all from BORP's Oakland program), and SoCal sent seven (four from Riverside's Junior Reign program, and three from Oxnard's Riptide program). In addition, two standing goalies from the Junior Reign's standing squirts team volunteered to be the goaltenders.
The teams met over pizza at Straw Hat down the street from the rink before the game. There, they got to meet the kids from the other teams and size up their opponents. Some played video games together. Competitors on ice, friends off ice, right?
At the rink, special jerseys were handed to the teams. SoCal took the white jerseys and NorCal took the black ones. The jerseys had a logo designed by USA Hockey's Norman Hayward on them to commemorate this special event.
|Nick sports the special jersey as he's getting into his sled.|
|The jerseys were a unique memento the kids will be able to keep and show their grandchildren one day. "I was in the very first sled hockey game ever played in California..."|
The players warmed up, and, after the National Anthem, the game was on. It took a little while for the kids to get the hang of playing an actual game, since both teams had only ever scrimmaged against teammates. It's different when you play against another team. Soon, they found their sweet spots, and the game was on!
|Faceoff! Getting ready for the puck drop.|
Sled hockey has 15 minute periods rather than the usual 20 minutes for stand up hockey. Sled hockey is a lot more tiring physically, since the arms are in charge of mobility and hitting the puck. It takes a lot more effort to chase down a puck when you have to chop at the ice with the end of your sticks to move.
|Go get that puck!|
|The age range for the athletes in this game was eight to seventeen.|
|Hit that puck!|
|Hit that puck!|
At the end of the first period, the score was 0-0. After a quick break, the teams were at it again. In the second period, Koda from NorCal scored a goal. The crowd went wild. There were about fifty people watching the game in the stands and around the rink. Many were parents and siblings, but some extended relatives and friends were also watching this historic event. Soon after, Koloa from SoCal tied up the game with his goal.
In the third period, Zach from NorCal scored the game-clinching goal, and NorCal won 2-1.
After the game, athletes were all introduced, and Koda, Koloa, and Zach each got a "first goal" certificate and the puck they scored with.
Everybody on NorCal's team got gold medals, and SoCal's team got sliver medals.
|NorCal's team sports their gold medals.|
|SoCal's team sports sliver medals.|
It was a great night for sled hockey! Congrats to all the athletes who woke up sore the next day because they pushed themselves. Thanks to Coach Dave Davies, Coach Andrew Hodge, and Michael Davies from the Junior Reign along with Coach Trooper Johnson from BORP. Thanks also to Matt Dunaev, the hockey director at LA Kings Icetown Riverside, and all the countless others who helped this event happen.
|Brock shows off his first ever sled hockey medal.|