Sled Hockey is an adaptive version of ice hockey played by athletes with physical disabilities.
“Beating the US National Women’s team is a huge confidence builder for all our Florida players,” says Florida Eels coach Ron Robichaud, who coached the championship squad. “Especially since we’ll see more strong competition at the US Disabled Hockey Festival in Dallas in mid-April”
The championship team featured men and women from the Fort Myers-based Florida Eels sled hockey team (http://www.floridasledhockey.com), along with sled hockey players from the Space Coast Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Junior Panthers.
The US National women’s team held a commanding 3-0 lead after two periods of play, but the Florida squad rallied behind a Westermeyer hat trick and another goal by Declan Farmer, both of Tampa Bay. Eels players Daniella Lombardi and Marc McLean had assists in the third period comeback.
McLean, of Cape Coral, took over in goal in the third period, ensuring the Florida victory by not allowing Team USA to score in the final frame.
The four-team tournament also featured another Florida squad along with the Long Island Roughriders, a sled hockey team made up of athletes with both physical and developmental disabilities.
“It’s great that our community is so supportive of adaptive sports,” says Kirsten O’Donnell of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida (http://www.goodwillswfl.org), which sponsored the tournament. “Sometimes it’s tough for people with disabilities to get opportunities like this.”
Long Island won the consolation final 3-2.
Robichaud expects to see the Florida Sled Hockey Showcase to grow in 2013.
“We already have interest from teams in England, Canada, and the Netherlands, as well as American squads from California to New Hampshire,” Says Robichaud. “Believe it or not, Florida is the fourth largest state in the country for sled hockey, and we’re growing.”
The Florida Eels are currently recruiting more players. Interested athletes may contact Ron Robichaud at (207) 252-7134 or via email: floridasledhockey@
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About Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida:
Goodwill operates 25 thrift stores in SW Florida to support its mission of helping people with disabilities and other disadvantages become more independent and self-sufficient.
Programs include income-sensitive housing, career placement assistance, the L.I.F.E. Academy Charter School, Four Wheels for Work, and others.
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is a proud sponsor of Florida Eels Sled Hockey.