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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kings Sled Hockey Invades Ducks Game at Ponda

Before we get started with Kings Sled Hockey at Anaheim's Honda Center, let's get a few details squared away.

The Paralympics start in Sochi on March 7. Make sure you cheer on Team USA as they defend their gold medal from Vancouver in 2010. You can follow some of the US National Team Members on Twitter.
Goalie Steve Cash, Team Captain Andy Yohi, Assistant Captains Josh Sweeney and Taylor Chace.
Players Rico Roman, Kevin McKee, Declan Farmer, Dan McCoy, Brody Roybal, Greg Shaw, and Taylor Lipsett.

Above: National Team members Josh Pauls (right) and Adam Page read to a group of elementary school children.  Below: The sleeve of the USA Hockey jerseys. 1960 and 1980 represent the gold medals men's standing hockey won. 1998 represents the gold medal women's standing hockey won. 2002 and 2010 represent USA's sled hockey golds. Seven of the gold medal winners from Vancouver are on the squad going to Sochi to defend the gold, including Josh Pauls and Adam Page pictured above.

And, for the record, the women aren't going to Sochi, but are hoping to have women's sled hockey added to the list of sports offered in 4 years in Korea. Follow USA Women's Sled Hockey's journey @USWomenSledHcky and follow the players Cierra Giehl, Robynne Hill, Karen Smith, Christy Gardner, Wendy Richter, and Kelsey di Claudio.

We plan to have a potluck breakfast for the gold medal Paralympic sledge hockey game on March 15. Hopefully USA's boys will be battling it out to win back to back Paralympic golds. The place is TBA, but it will probably be somewhere near-ish to the rink in Riverside.

While we're at following things on social media, don't forget to "like" our Facebook page and follow Christie and/or Todd on Twitter.

The LA Kings Sled Hockey Team (adults) pose at the rink at their most recent tournament in Pittsburgh.
In addition, if we are planning to take athletes to the Disabled Hockey Festival in Boston, we need to raise funds quickly. Any ideas for this project? Any ideas? Contact Todd and Christie. Remember, if we can somehow get 1,000 people to donate $10, we're going. If we can get 200 people to donate $50 each, we're going to Boston.

Don't forget that March 29 we are doing a between-periods demo at Staples at the Kings vs. Jets game. Details to follow, but reserve the date. The cost is $77 to sit in the suite with the LA Kings Sled Hockey team during the game. Send a message to Todd for details.

And now for our feature presentation...


January 28 LA Kings Sled Hockey joined Corona-Norco Stingrays for the Ducks vs. Wild game at the Honda Center in Anaheim. After the NHL game, Kings Sled Hockey played the Stingrays in hockey sleds on the ice at Honda Center.

This idea was the brainchild of some of the parents and coaches of the Corona-Norco Stingrays, who practice at LA Kings Icetown Riverside, the same rink as the LA Kings Sled Hockey team uses. They arranged for the event to happen and extended an invitation to the Kings Sled Hockey team.

Of course, the night came with a lot of preparation. Todd and Christie, along with Steve Laing arranged for the team to have the CAHA loaner sleds so the Corona-Norco team had sleds for the game. The Stingrays joined LA Kings sled hockey at their January 13th and January 27th practices in order to get a feel for the hockey sled and some coaching on how to move, shoot, and carry the puck.

Moving with the puck is not as easy as it looks when you're in a sled.

Being able to get power on the puck one-handed is definitely something the Stingrays can work on more.

Balance. It's all about balance. (Their sleds had the blades 4-5 inches apart, since they were beginners in the sleds.)

Athletes on both teams sold tickets to friends and family for the Ducks/Wild game preceding the sled hockey game. The biggest ticket seller on Kings Sled Hockey was coach Andrew Hodge.

First, the team met at the concierge entrance to take the hockey gear down to ice level before the NHL game started.

The Swopes speak with Todd, Nick and Steven while waiting to take gear into Honda Center.

The team, coaches, and guests settled in to watch the Anaheim Ducks host the Minnesota Wild. Several members of the team are Ducks fans, though most of the team was cheering for the Wild. Many on the team were cheering for Darcy Kuemper, the goaltender for the Wild who previously played with the Ontario Reign. Either way, the Ducks have an amazing record this season, and most people expected them to win. The Wild's Jason Pominville scored first, but that goal was matched by a Ducks goal by Dustin Penner. The Wild then netted three more goals; one each by Mikeal, Granlund, Zach Parise and Erik Haula. The Ducks center Mathieu Perrault got another puck past Kuemper, but the Wild held on to a 4-2 win, only the second regulation loss for the Ducks at home this season.

Waiting at the Zamboni gate. One of the athletes was being interviewed on the ice and we had to wait for the interview to finish before the Zamboni could cut the ice and we could get on.'s almost time.

Toward the end of the third period, the players on both Kings Sled Hockey and Corona-Norco Stingrays made their way into the bowels of Honda Center to gear up for the sled hockey game. After the Ducks and Wild left the ice, Honda Center staff cut the ice with a Zamboni and the sled players took to the ice for warmups.

Since Honda Center isn't an adapted rink, our athletes who weren't playing lined up along the boards in front of the team bench. Here, Charlie is listening to his coach after warm-ups.

The athletes discuss the game plan with the coach.

You can tell the athletes really love the game.

LA Kings sled hockey dominated early, and by the first intermission, they were up 3-0. They scored two more goals in the second. During the intermission between the second and third period, the teams decided to switch goalies and Pedro from the LA Kings decided to put on a Stingrays jersey to help the team out. Pedro ended up scoring the Stingrays' only goal, and LA Kings Sled Hockey coasted an easy 5-1 win.


Terry with the puck.

Nick and Brian move quickly to get to the puck before the Stingrays players do.

Todd, Christie, and Steven were on the bench. During play, Teemu Selanne came to the bench and started talking with Coach Andrew about sled hockey and the game. He said, "This is great! This is really great!" Andrew, of course, wears a #8 on his jersey in honor of Selanne, so this was a thrill for him.

Selanne talks with Andrew.

When the game was over, the athletes lined up for handshakes and a group picture. Despite their loss, the Stingrays were all smiles and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Sled hockey uses a lot of the same skills as standing hockey, and some of the Corona-Norco players learned hockey skills by isolating skills like puck-handling and watching how plays develop. Even the smaller kids on the LA Kings team were super. They took most of the faceoffs so they could get practice handling the puck, and got right into the middle of the plays when they were on the ice. It was a fun night for all who were involved. Honda Center staff commented that they had never seen sled hockey before, and they were impressed at the skill-level and the athleticism of the players. The coach of the Stingrays commented afterward that he wants to build a closer relationship between his team and our team. It was a fantastic night for all.

Puck drop. Jeffrey takes this faceoff.

Terry, Josh, Silverio and David. One of our volunteers, Kelsey (who was thrown into reffing the game...surprise!) looks on to make sure everyone is playing by the rules.

Nice game. Good game. Nice game. 

Group shot! Notice that there are a couple of Kings players among the Stingrays, and Pedro (towards the left) is wearing a white Stingrays jersey but is holding up his Kings jersey.