GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – For the first time, Grand Rapids will host the International Youth Sled Hockey Invitational, drawing elite teams from across the United States and Russia. Grand Rapids’ Junior Sled Wings will hit the ice against the Youth Russian National All-Star Sled Hockey Team, along with the Hope Inc. Hurricanes from Minnesota and North Dakota, and the Space Coast Blast from Florida.
Forty-five athletes with physical disabilities will participate in the inaugural tournament. Athletes range in age from 12 to 18. The Blast (2019), Hurricanes (2018) and Sled Wings (2015) represent three of the last five U.S. National Champions for youth sled hockey.
When: 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday
8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Patterson Ice Center, 2550 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
- Grand Rapids vs. Russia scrimmage during Grand Rapids Griffins game – 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Team activities, including visits to Craig’s Cruisers and the Grand Rapids Public Museum
The home team, the Grand Rapids Junior Sled Wings, is sponsored by Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Department, the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation and Rinks to Links. It became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan in 2001 and won a national title in 2015.
“We are excited for our athletes to have this very unique opportunity to play against top-level competition,” said Junior Sled Wings Coach Steve Kozlowski. “This will be a great opportunity for socializing, culture and sportsmanship for all athletes.”
Sled hockey follows traditional hockey rules, except participants sit on bladed sleds. Players use shortened hockey sticks with a blade on one end and a metal pick on the other, which enables them to propel across the ice. Sled hockey includes checking, penalties and hard shots.
The International Youth Sled Hockey Invitational event sponsors include the Griffins Youth Foundation, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Rinks to Links, Grand Rapids Griffins, Freedom Motors, Howie’s Hockey Tape, DeWys Manufacturing, American Legion 459, Buhler Group, HighSchoolFanStand.com, and Mobility Sports.
International Youth Sled Hockey Invitational Game Schedule:
Saturday, Nov. 2
7:30 a.m. Game #1 – Space Coast vs Russia
8:45 a.m. Game #2 – Hope Inc. vs. Grand Rapids
1:00 p.m. Game #3 – Space Coast vs. Hope Inc.
2:15 p.m. Game #4 – Russia vs. Grand Rapids
Sunday, Nov. 3
8:30 a.m. Game #5 – Hope Inc. vs. Russia
8:40 a.m. Game #6 – Grand Rapids vs. Space Coast
12:30 p.m. Consolation Game – Teams TBD
1:45 p.m. Championship Game – Teams TBD
ABOUT MARY FREE BED
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 1891, Mary Free Bed experts has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of more than 110 specialized medical and sports rehabilitation programs and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables our specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.
Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program is one of the largest of its kind in the United States, serving more than 1,200 people of all ages and abilities every year. WAS offers 40-plus classes, clinics, special events and competitive teams to empower children and adults to explore the possibilities competitive and recreational sports present. For additional information, click here.
ABOUT THE GRIFFINS YOUTH FOUNDATION
Established in 1995, the Griffins Youth Foundation promotes academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports. The foundation provides programming at no cost to 420 kids, with co-ed hockey for first through 12th graders, a girls-only division, a learn-to-skate program, and the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team for children and teens with physical disabilities. For more information about the foundation, please visit griffinskids.org.