New England Sports Center in Marlborough), and seven members of the LA Kings Sled Hockey team made the trip. Five of the members joined the S.T.R.I.D.E.'s Capital District Sled Warriors from Albany, NY to fill out their roster. One member went with his old team, the USA Warriors from Washington D.C., and the seventh member joined a team called the Polar Xpress.
The athletes who went to Boston were: Hans Blum, Nicholas Jenkins, Wes Barrientos, Charlie Alvary, Summer Samuelson, Brian Rathfelder, and Pedro Gomez-Ramos.
Let's start with how Hans Blum did. He is a relatively new addition to the LA Kings team, but he has fit right in and has taken a leadership role on the team. What many people may not know is that he learned sled hockey while playing for the USA Warriors after he lost his legs in Iraq. When the Warriors submitted their roster for the tournament, they made sure to add Blum on it. In the first game (Warriors vs. NY Rangers), Blum scored two goals to help his team win 4-2. In the second game against the Buffalo Sabres, he racked up an assist. Though he did not score any more the rest of the tournament, those three points were enough for him to be ranked 13th leading scorer in the open A division. His team won all of their games, including the championship game where they faced the NY Rangers again and beat them 5-4.
|USA Warriors vs. Rangers|
|The bench area of one of the rinks at the New England Sports Center was adapted for sled hockey.|
|Scoreboard after the Warriors' first win.|
Nicholas Jenkins played on the Polar Xpress. The team was assembled almost on the spot by USA Hockey to even out the brackets because another team had dropped out of the tournament. The Xpress consisted of 8 teenagers from all over the U.S. who volunteered to play on this team as a challenge. For the most part, the athletes did not know each other before they met in the locker room before that first game. They were coached by Tyler Konvent and Judy Sheldon. The team lost their first three games but handily won the last one. Jenkins picked up an assist in the first game, two assists in the second, and a goal in the last game. That made him the ninth highest scorer in his division in the tournament; not a bad showing for a defenseman.
|Nicholas Jenkins is #14, in the middle of the frame with black and white Kings socks.|
|Nicholas getting in his sled before the first game.|
|Nicholas (at right) playing against the Chicago Hornets|
|Bench of the Warriors|
|Brian Rathfelder gets goalie gear on.|
|Pedro Gomez-Ramos put in a lot of hard work and was an excellent team player for the Warriors.|
|S.T.R.I.D.E./LA Kings combined team for the Disabled Festival.|
Boston (or Marlborough, 30 miles outside of Boston, actually) proved to be a fantastic host city for this festival. There were many sights for people to see if they had a few hours to kill between games, and the facility had six sheets of ice so it was large enough to host the entire tournament under one roof. There were 103 games associated with the Disabled Hockey Festival, and fifty-four teams including:
13 Special Hockey Teams
12 Youth Sled Hockey Teams
24 Adult Sled Hockey Teams
4 Standing Amputee Hockey Teams
1 Deaf/Hard of Hearing Team
|Nicholas Jenkins (center) poses with friend Josh Sweeney and Paul Schaus as they show him their gold medals.|
|Steven Jenkins (center) poses with Avs coach Corey Fairbanks and 2010 sled hockey gold medal winner Alexi Salamone|
Adult Sled National Championship: San Antonio Rampage (Texas)
Youth Sled Division A: Bennett Blazers (Maryland)
Youth Sled Division B: Sitting Bulls (Pennsylvania)
Youth Sled Division C: Minnesota Jr. Wild
- This division had LA Kings player Nicholas Jenkins on the third place Polar Xpress
Adult Sled Division A: USA Warriors (Washington D.C.)
Adult Sled Division B Liberty: Connecticut Wolfpack
- This division had LA Kings player Hans Blum on first place USA Warriors
Adult Sled Division B Freedom: Turnstone Flyers (Indiana)
Adult Sled Division C: Nashville Sled Preds (Tennessee)
- This division had LA Kings players Summer Samuelson, Brian Rathfelder, Pedro Gomez-Ramos, Wes Barrientos, and Charlie Alvary playing on fourth place S.T.R.I.D.E./LA Kings
|Congrats to 2014 National Champions San Antonio Rampage!|
And, congrats to Youth Division A champions Bennett Blazers! See a compilation video of their championship game below.