Illinois hockey players and coaching staff to participate in World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships

By Teresa Burgin

Barrington, IL – April 19, 2017Max Finley, Peoria; Derek Struwing, Bartlett; and Ryne Krueger, Barrington; will represent the United States in the upcoming World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships. The games will take place April 19-29, 2017 in Amherst, NY. The competition will include teams from Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, and the United States. The US team includes 23 players from 13 states. Finley and Struwing are among 17 players with previous international experience.  They most recently brought home the bronze medal from the 2015 Deaflympics held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Krueger is one of six players being introduced to the international scene for the first time.

The team operates under the guidelines of the USA Deaf Sports Federation. Players were selected after attending the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA) team tryout in August 2016. To qualify for the games, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in their “better ear.” Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and the like are not allowed to be used in competition, to place all athletes on the same level. Unlike other sports, the only modification for deaf ice hockey is the addition of strobe lights which flash along with a whistle or horn to stop play.

No stranger to international play, this will be Finley’s third international competition. Max played in the 2013 World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships and the 2015 Deaflympics. He is currently a senior at Northern Illinois University and plays on the Huskies ACHA D2 hockey team. Previously, he played for the Peoria Mustangs junior hockey team and Peoria Youth Hockey Association. Max is completing an athletic training internship at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. Following graduation, he will work for DJO Global.

Struwing will once again bring scoring power to the US team. Derek is known for his speed and drive to the net. This will be his second international competition. Last month, he completed his first season in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) playing for the Junior Warriors. Prior to the moving to the EHL, Derek played for the Geneva Cyclones Central States AAA team. He plans to start college in the fall at Bradley University.

Most recently, Krueger played defense for the Barrington Broncos in the Scholastic Hockey League When he is not playing hockey, Krueger is completing his seventh season as an ice hockey official. He referees Mite to Bantam level games at rinks throughout the northwest suburbs. The Barrington High School senior will graduate in June. He plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York to study computer science.

The U.S. National Men’s Deaf Ice Hockey Team also includes five staff members from Illinois.  The team will be led by Head Coach Joe Gotfryd (Brookfield) and Assistant Coach Larry Sterczek (Wheeling).  Medical Trainer Jenny Janczak (Schaumburg), Team Physician James Leonard, MD (Western Springs), and Team Manager Cheryl Hager (Oak Lawn) will support the U.S. players throughout the competition.

Follow all the action at the World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships at or watch the games via live streaming on

Categories: Disabled Hockey, Hockey Headlines

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