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Who are the Grand Rapids Sled Wings and What is Sled Hockey?

Sled Hockey, is ice hockey for people with disabilities, is a hard-hitting, competitive, intense sport. This is no figure skating! It is a sport that is much different than any other sport in the community for people with disabilities. It requires 2 – 3 times of actually getting onto the sled and moving it to start to get the hang of it. But, what an awesome sport it is! Games are played on regulation ice hockey rinks with 6 member teams (5 positional spots and one goalie).

Any person with a disability that prevents them from playing on a stand up team is eligible to play. The Sled Hockey teams must follow USA Hockey Rules with minimal adaptations. Teams have both male and female players that play at three levels. The junior level is for children under 16 years of age. The intermediate level is for people 16 years old and older, and the senior level is for highly skilled players that would be able to compete at the Paralympic level.

The athletes use sleds to move across the ice. The sleds are composed of aluminum tubing with stainless steel hockey blades. Each sled has a seat constructed out of high density plastic. Sleds can be custom made for the athlete, with a weight range from 15 to 25 pounds depending on the design. To propel the sled down the ice, the athlete needs 2 sticks. Each stick is specially designed to allow shooting on either the left or right side of the blade. The sticks also have 2 sets of picks per stick with a minimum of 3 – 4 picks per stick. The athlete uses the picks on the sticks to grip the ice to push/propel his/her sled down the ice. Athletes also wear all of the regulation ice hockey pads and a hockey helmet. A regulation ice hockey puck is also used.

Grand Rapids Sled Wings, a team of physically challenged teenagers, is sponsored in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. They became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan upon their founding in 2001 and travel all over the country playing against other sled hockey teams. You can help the Sled Wings raise money to offset the significant travel costs associated with their competitive schedule.

View photos of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings in action.