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Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 in Review

What a year!

Our hockey club became a recognized and official Paralympic Sport Club. This opens our program up for grant and training opportunities put on by US Olympic and US Paralympic Committees. It helps us network with other people in the sports community, and being part of a Paralympic Sport Club helps us get discounts at certain businesses.

Our Paralympic Sport Club banner at the rink

We had our annual clinic on June 23. Fifty-three people tried a hockey sled, many of them for the very first time. We had a lot of help from Bisop Amat's high school hockey team, and several other volunteers came out to help. Here are a few pictures from our clinic.

We sent Pedro to USA Hockey's Select Sled Came in July where he learned skills to take his play to the next level. He had a great time and hopes to be able to go back next year and maybe bring one of our other athletes with him. Here is a video of the entire camp, and Pedro is in some of the shots. He's number 8 on team "white," so see if you can spot him.

In addition, we had athletes who went to clinics to demonstrate the sport and help teams/programs in other parts of Southern California. Nick and Andrew went to a clinic in Cathedral City where they were joined by a few members of the Phoenix Coyotes to demo the sport. Nick and Joshua went to a clinic in Oxnard, and Nick went to a clinic in Bakersfield. Each time, we brought some of our extra sleds and gear in the "sled hockey mobile."

We had a few fundraisers. One fundraiser, sponsored by Glen Ivy Hot Springs, brought $5,000 to our team by selling passes to the spa. The Kings helped us by purchasing the mugs travel coffee mugs for us to sell. They even set aside space on their website to sell the mugs online, You can still purchase one or several and drink coffee like a King!

Mike Richards proves his good taste by taking a picture with one of our coffee mugs.

The Kings also helped us by donating auction items including a team signed jersey, signed pucks, and other items. They took up a collection during the sled hockey demo at Hockey Fest as well. They have been super in supporting sled hockey and helping our team. They donated jerseys and the personalization when our competitive adults team went to the NHL Sled Classic.

In addition, we received several grants and donations, including one from Sempra Energy, one from the Ontario Reign Booster Club, and the Yucaipa Masonic Lodge.

In September, we invited to do a demo at LA Kings Hockey Fest.  Yes, the first hockey game played on that ice this season was our sled hockey scrimmage! We balanced the teams between kids and adults, less-skilled and more-skilled players, and had a great time. Both Daniel Carcillo and Ben Scrivens dropped the pucks to start the periods, and after the scrimmage, they got into sleds to play with our athletes and others.

Charlie, Brian, and Wes outside of Staples Center before HockeyFest.

Charlie, Brian, and Wes on the ice at Hockey Fest.,

Puck Drop.

Ben Scrivens gets some sled hockey pointers from Pedro.

In November, we took our competitive adults team to the NHL Sled Classic in Pittsburgh representing the Kings. The team played the Preds and lost, played the Sabres and won, played the Hurricanes and lost after an eight round shootout, and lost to the Preds again in the semi-finals. The team had a great time and had many opportunities to mingle with sled hockey players from the other programs, and even US National Team members. there were sixteen team at the tournament, representing fourteen NHL teams. It snowed while we were there, and everyone blamed the California team for the snow. As a side note, during the game against the Hurricanes, the Kings tied the game with 1.8 seconds left in the third period. I have been told that the Canes have nicknamed their goalie "1.8" because of that game. Now you know why that is my new favorite number!

Not exactly Staples Center, but it will do for a Kings locker room.

The team. Top L-R: Wes, Summer, Todd (manager) Terry, and Andrew.
Bottom L-R: Charlie, Joshua, Nick, Brian, and Pedro.

In addition, we practiced for fifty weeks out of the year. Our coaches and volunteers have been phenomenal. Andrew Hodge, who is USA Hockey's Coach in Chief for Disabled Hockey for the Western Region, has brought our adult team from a ragtag bunch of people to a respected and competitive team that can compete at a national competition. Jim Edelbrock has taken a bunch of kids who have never had the opportunity to play a competitive sport before and turned them into hockey-loving awesomeness. Our on-ice volunteers Jake Kent and Geoff Estabrooks have also been very helpful. 

Jake with one of the kids.

Off the ice, the Swope family take the initiative to help new athletes and keep the equipment in working order. In addition, many of our events could not have happened without countless volunteers and helpful people.

Recently, we got a nice donation of broken stick shafts we can use for our sled hockey sticks from the folks at Hat Trick BBQ. They also gave us a BBQ set to auction off.

Looking forward into 2014, we have several things on the agenda.

1. Solidify our relationship with the LA Kings and become the official LA Kings Sled Hockey team.
2. Have a 3 on 3 tournament for our U-18 athletes (inviting sled hockey U-18 athletes from Phoenix, Oakland, Oxnard, Las Vegas, and Bakersfield to participate).
3. Have demo game at Honda Center after the Ducks v. Wild game on January 28. We will play the Corona Norco Stingrays, putting them in hockey sleds.
4. Have a demo between periods at the Kings v. Panthers game on March 22.
5. Have a potluck breakfast to watch the gold medal Paralympic sledge hockey game on March 15 (hopefully USA will  be in this game).
6. Possibly going to the Disabled Hockey Festival in April in Boston.
....and many more events on the schedule including our annual clinic, sending one or more players to USA Hockey's Select Sled Camp, helping San Diego establish a program, having some tournaments, fundraisers, and fun. Always have fun.

For more information on any of these events, for how a potential athlete can join the team (or at least try it out to see if you'll like it), or to find out how to volunteer or sponsor the team, contact Todd at or You can also call (909) 863-1000 and ask for Todd. 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

NHL Sled Classic in Pittsburgh

Top: Andrew Hodge (8), Terry Miller (22), Summer Samuelson (26), Nicholas Jenkins (5), Joshua Swope (15), Pedro Gomez-Ramos (10) Bottom: Brian Rathfelder (9) Charlie Alvary (23), Wesley Barrientos (3)

The Los Angeles Kings sent a team of sled hockey players to this year's NHL Sled Classic (Nov. 22-24) in Pittsburgh. The team consisted of the adult team at LA Kings Icetown Riverside, and three players from Bakersfield. This was the first time a West Coast NHL team has ever had a sled hockey team in this tournament, so we were under a lot of pressure to represent the Kings properly. Coach Andrew Hodge even encouraged the players to wear dress shirts and ties so they would look as professional off the ice as on.

Standing: Wesley Barrientos, Summer Samuelson, Todd Jenkins (manager), Terry Miller, Andrew Hodge. Sitting: Charlie Alvary, Joshua Swope, Nicholas Jenkins, Brian Rathfelder, Pedro Gomez-Ramos

So, how did the team do? Surprisingly well, considering this was their first tournament and they were playing against more experienced teams. They won 1 game, tied one game (lost in a shootout), and lost two games.

The tournament started at 11:45 on Thursday night, November 21. That's when the airplane took off from LAX carrying the LA Kings sled hockey team. The red-eye flight was the only way the team could get to the tournament on time. Several team members had to work on Thursday before heading to the airport. Of course they tried to get as much sleep as possible on the flight, but it's not comfortable or particularly restful.

When the team got to Pittsburgh, they had just enough time to find the hotel, eat a snack, and head to the rink for their first game. All of the Kings' games were played on the rinks at Robert Morris University Island Sports Center, in the middle of the beautiful Ohio River.

Game 1- LA Kings vs. Nashville Predators (the "Sled Preds") November 22

This first game caught the team blindsided because of the lack of sleep and the lack of experience. Nashville got out to an early lead, and though the Kings started coming back, Nashville held onto a lead the entire game. A late two goals sealed the game and the Kings lost 3-6. Brian Rathfelder scored the very first goal of the tournament for the Kings, and Wesley Barrientos scored the second (and got an assist on Rathfelder's goal as well).

After the loss, the team was able to grab dinner at the rink and watch some of the other games. Rink food wasn't the healthiest of options, but it was there, and since the members of the team hadn't sat down to a meal since dinner the night before, they were famished.

There were 16 teams at the tournament, representing 14 NHL teams. In addition to the Kings, there were teams representing the Stars, Sabres, Capitals, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, Predators, Panthers, Flyers, Avalanche, Bruins, Rangers, Blackhawks, and the Penguins (the host team). All teams that came to the tournament have an official affiliation and relationship with their respective NHL teams. The teams were divided into three divisions; as a basically brand-new team, the Kings were placed in Division C. Most of the US National Team players were their playing on their club teams, and it was nice for our athletes to see top-level sled hockey players.

Despite the lack of sleep and being off-schedule because of a 3 hour time change, the team had to find some steam to play a second game on Friday before being able to turn in for the night to get some sleep.

Game 2- LA Kings vs. Buffalo Sabres November 22

This game was as lopsided as the last one, but this time it was in favor of the Kings. Andrew Hodge scored two goals,  Wesley Barrientos netted two goals and two assists, Terry Miller got an assist, Charlie Alvary got three assists, and Brian Rathfelder got an assist. Wesley Barrientos also took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that would have given the Sabres a penalty shot, but the Sabres ended up scoring on the play so the penalty was recorded but not served. The Kings scored 5 goals and ended up winning 5-2.

There was no time to party after that win, since the next game was at 8:00 AM the next morning. Yes, that would be 5:00 AM by California clocks. The sleep-deprived team went to the hotel to find some very nice (and too brief) rest.

Game 3- LA Kings vs. Carolina Hurricanes, November 23

The word for this game is awesome. The Canes had come into the game having won their previous two games, so they were the first place team in our division. The Kings were able to hold them off 1-0, despite the loss of our goalie, Summer Samuelson, who got injured in the warmups and decided to stay out of the game as a precaution. Brian Rathfelder played back-up goalie, despite needing to use Summer's gear (left-handed gear even though he's a rightie), and never having tried a goalie sled before. Then, the Kings tied it up with 1.8 seconds left in the third with an incredible shot from Pedro Gomez-Ramos. The game ended up going to 8 rounds of shootout which built excitement throughout the arena. More and more spectators poured in to watch before the Hurricanes finally pulled out with a win. However, both teams fought hard for their points, and it was decidedly the game that the Kings athletes had the most fun playing.

Nicholas Jenkins in the 8 round shootout.

After the game against the Canes, the Kings were able to regroup, grab a bite to eat, and head back to the hotel for a nap in preparation for the semi-final game. While they were napping it began snowing outside. Everyone was hyped from the change in weather, and they headed back to the rink with excitement. Many people at the tournament who live in cold places jokingly blamed the California team for the snow. "You came out here wanting hockey weather? You got it."

Steven Jenkins, the youngest helper who went with the team, plays in the snow.

Pedro Gomez-Ramos enjoys the snow.

Game 4- Semi-final match, Kings vs. Nashville Predators (again), November 23

Before the semi-final game, they got a pep talk from Avalanche coach Corey Fairbanks (and several Avs players and personnel sat on the bench for part of the game).

The Kings felt like there was some unfinished business after the Preds beat them in the first game. They came into this game fired up and ready to win. However, Nashville scored two goals in the first period and another goal in the second, letting the wind out of the Kings' sails. The Kings started coming back with two goals in the second in a very short time by Pedro Gomez-Ramos and Wesley Barrientos. At the end of the second, Pedro Gomez-Ramos took a hard (legal) hit into the boards and ended up with a dislocated shoulder. He was taken off the ice and paramedics were called. This seemed to fire Nashville up, and the disheartened Kings lost to Nashville in the semi-finals 5-2. This marked the final game for the LA Kings in this tournament. If they had won, they would have moved on to the division finals.

As a side note, Gomez-Ramos wouldn't let the paramedics cut his Kings jersey, even though he was in a lot of pain and couldn't move his arm away from his body. So the paramedics removed the jersey as carefully as they could before taking him to the hospital, and Pedro endured the pain to preserve his jersey. I told him we would get him a new one, and he said, "No way! This one is special. Never let it touch the ground."

The final game in Division C was between the Nashville Predators and the Carolina Hurricanes. It was played at Consol Energy Center (where the Penguins play). Nashville ended up beating Carolina 2-1, taking the division title.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators play in the division finals at Consol Energy Center. The Kings came to watch the game, and they had a very hungry look in their eyes when Nashville won.

Kings defenseman Nicholas Jenkins (right) watches the Division A title game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Dallas Stars with team manager Todd Jenkins
In the other divisions, the Sabres and the Capitals took home titles. (This was not the same Sabres team we played and beat. The Sabres sent three teams to this tournament.) Overall, it was a great tournament and the Kings sled hockey team is hungry to go back next year.

Several team members pose with the statue in front of Consol Energy Center. Note the sling on Pedro's arm, courtesy of the game he played the night before.

There are so many people who need to be thanked who made this tournament happen. It took a lot of planning, fundraising, and some outright gifts from people.

First, the Mighty Penguins sled hockey program put on a great tournament. Thank you for all of the help on your end to get the Kings out to represent the West Coast. The planning and coordination that has to go into a tournament like this must be massive, and it was smoothly run. In addition, USA Hockey staff, including JJ O'Connor and Norm Page (who was especially helpful at 1 AM after our athlete got back from the hospital) were fantastic.

Second, the LA Kings have been super in supporting this team. From fundraisers, to helping us get the word out about our program, to allowing us to do demos, to donating jerseys and socks and so many other things, Chris Crotty, Lauren Wiedmeier and the rest of the Kings staff deserve a huge THANK YOU! Every athlete at the NHL Sled Classic got a pair of LA Kings sunglasses and an LA Kings bottle opener, so every time they get a cold one they will be reminded who the best NHL team is. In turn, the Kings can be happy with how their sled hockey team did at this tournament. It was from the newest program there, and they scored in every game, won one game, and forced a game to shootout against the division's strongest team.

US National Sled Hockey Team member Josh Sweeney shows the Twitter World his Kings sunglasses from this tournament. 

Third, we need to thank the people who, at their own expense, tagged along with the team. The team paid for a manager (Todd Jenkins) and an assistant (Kathy Swope) to travel. The rest of the fan club paid their own way. This includes Bud Swope, Jeremy Swope, Dave Hodge, Christie Jenkins, and Steven Jenkins. Nancy Hodge was also planning to come but had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. For their tireless efforts in helping this team, we salute all the helpers. It would have been a very difficult tournament without them.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who donated money, bought a mug (, and helped us out in getting to the NHL Sled Classic. Our team definitely traveled the farthest to the event. We represented the Kings well, and represented this side of the country well. Glen Ivy Hot Springs also helped us with a great fundraiser, and the board members on the Junior Reign were very supportive of this vision. Of course, Matt Dunaev from LA Kings Icetown has been a huge help in catching the vision for this team, and the board of the Junior Reign have been very supportive and helpful. Also, a shout-out to Scott Hay, the rink manager in Bakersfield, for supporting sled hockey at your rink.

We are proud of what we accomplished, and all of the athletes agree that this was the first tournament, but it definitely won't be the last! There is business on the ice they need to take care of, and there is a fire in their hearts to go back next year and win. Go Kings Go!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


To see post about our demo at LA Kings HockeyFest, click here.

To see pictures and an update about the U-18 team, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

To buy an LA Kings/Dread the Sled travel coffee mug, go to or click here

You can also purchase travel mugs at the following locations and save on shipping:
Hockey Monkey --10540 Magnolia, Riverside
The Eating Room --107 E. Citrus Street, Redlands
Daryl’s Pet Shop --1589 W. Redlands Blvd, Redlands
Greater Good Coffee Company --300 State Street, Redlands (in the Citibank building)
Kafe Royale --1007 Calimesa Blvd, Calimesa
Redondo Beach Cafe-- 1511 PCH, Redondo Beach


November 22-24, we're sending a small team of nine athletes to the NHL Sled Classic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to represent the Kings. The plane tickets are bought, the hotel is reserved. The Kings jerseys are being made (A huge thank you LA Kings and Team LA for the jerseys, and to the LA Kings for their incredible support and help in making this happen). This is the first time any NHL team on the West Coast has had a team at the NHL Sled Classic, so it's an honor for us to break new ground for hockey and sled hockey out here. Now it's time to meet our athletes going to Pittsburgh.

Charlie Alvary
Birthday: October 27, 1990
Position: Defense
Jersey #23

Wesley Barrientos
Birthday: September 16, 1984
Position: Forward
Jersey #3

Pedro Gomez-Ramos
Birthday: February 19, 1993
Position: Forward
Alternate Team Captain
Jersey #10

Andrew Hodge
Birthday: February 24, 1989
Position:  Forward
Jersey #8

Nick Jenkins
Birthday: July 17, 2000
Position: Defense
Jersey #5

Terry Miller
Birthday: May 7, 1975
Position: Forward
Team Captain
Jersey #22

Brian Rathfelder
Birthday: August 12, 1984
Position: Defense
Jersey #9

Summer Samuelson
March 24 (year? none of your business. 
There are advantages to being a woman, after all.)
Position: Goalie
Jersey #26

Josh Swope
Birthday: September 14, 1988
Position: Defense
Jersey #15

The U-18 team is gearing up for hosting a 3 on 3 tournament against other California, Nevada, and Arizona sled hockey U-18 players, date and time TBA. 

Keep selling the coffee mugs! The funds go toward the program and the events we're scheduling.

Upcoming dates:
November 22-24- NHL Sled Classic in Pittsburgh
January 28- Demo against Corona-Norco high school hockey team at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
February 1- Sled Hockey Night and possible demo at LA Kings game
March 15- Pot luck brunch to watch the Paralympic gold medal sled hockey game from Sochi, Russia 
April 11-13- Disabled Hockey Festival in Boston
Other events, demos, and games TBA, including a U-18 3 on 3 tournament currently being scheduled, and possible demo games at the ECHL Condors and ECHL Bulls games. Contact Todd and Christie for more info on these events.

If you are a member of a standing hockey team and would like to arrange a date for us to play your team in sleds, please contact Todd for more information. Either click the link to the left, or send an e-mail to You can also contact Todd at (909) 863-1000.