Para Ice Hockey
A direct descendant of ice hockey, para ice hockey (formerly known as sledge hockey) was invented at a rehabilitation centre in Stockholm, Sweden, during the early 1960’s by a group of Swedes who, despite their physical impairment, wanted to continue playing hockey. The men modified a metal frame sled, or sledge, with two regular-sized ice hockey skate blades that allowed the puck to pass underneath. Using round poles with bike handles for sticks, the men played without any goaltenders on a lake south of Stockholm.
The sport caught on and, by 1969, Stockholm had a five-team league that included players with a physically impairment and able-bodied players. That same year, Stockholm hosted the first international ice sledge hockey match between a local club team and one from Oslo, Norway. During the 1970’s, teams from these two countries played once or twice a year. Several other countries began to establish teams, including Great Britain (1981), Canada (1982), USA (1990), Estonia and Japan (1993).
Ice sledge hockey became an official event at the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games.
In the UK, the National Governing Body for the sport is the British Para Ice Hockey Association. There are currently 5 UK based teams, who compete in a league which runs during the ice hockey off-season, usually March-August. Players from each of the teams comprise the national GB Team, which currently plays in Pool B of the IPC World Championships.