On October 22 and 23, 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks, with support from USA Hockey and AHAI, hosted a Blind Hockey Summit at Center Ice of DuPage. The Blind Hockey Summit attracted 28 players from Chicago, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Canada, as well as representatives from New York and Colorado where the USA Hockey American Development Model (ADM) Practice concepts were introduced. The weekend included ADM practices, cross-ice small area games and a competitive game was played among the advanced players.
“All the players that participated in the summit are visually impaired. Each player has a different level of hockey experience from learn-to-skate, intermediate or advanced” explained Michael Svac, Chicago Blackhawks Blind Hockey Director. “The game is played with a modified metal puck that is larger and heavier than a standard rubber puck but it is also hollow with ball bearings inside the puck which makes a sound when it moves on the ice.” Blind hockey is played the same way as any youth hockey program with only a few modified rules to adapt to the visual limitations of the players.”
Chicago’s Team Captain, Salmaan Chauhdri said “this event was amazing. We started our program one year ago and here we are leading this Summit with players from Canada and United States. It was so much fun to be on the ice to compete and also share ideas with other players and coaches.”
Svac noted that “when these athletes put on the skates, strap on the helmet and step on the ice, there is no disability and they all become hockey players…our 18 players from Chicago are very proud to represent the Chicago Blackhawks and the City of Chicago and they cannot wait for the next challenge which could be the Disabled Hockey Festival in San Jose in April.”
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