*** IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ***
The Hammerheads Sled Hockey team has been granted the rights to play as the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2023 NHL Sled Classic. The 13th annual USA Hockey Sled Classic, presented by the NHL, will take place November 16-19, 2023, in Wesley, Chapel, Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning will host the event at AdventHealth Center Ice.
First staged in 2010, the USA Hockey Sled Classic is an annual round-robin format tournament between NHL-affiliated sled hockey teams. Participating teams in the tournament must have an official affiliation with an NHL member club and must represent their affiliated NHL club by wearing official NHL licensed jerseys with local club marks and logos.
The inaugural Sled Classic featured four teams and 46 players. The 2022 event was hosted by the Anaheim Ducks at Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena in Irvine, California. The event featured 23 teams (with certain NHL clubs fielding multiple squads) and 279 total skaters.
Hammerheads Sled Hockey Association, Inc. is not owned or operated by, or otherwise affiliated with, the Philadelphia Flyers organization, Comcast Spectacor, LLC, or any parent, subsidiary, or affiliate thereof. The Hammerheads are solely licensed to use certain logos and other intellectual property of the Flyers in connection with the 2023 USA Hockey Sled Classic.
History of Sled Hockey
Two men from Sweden designed the sledge in the 1960s because they wanted to continue to play hockey despite their physical disabilities. Their design included two skate blades on a metal frame that allowed the puck to pass underneath. They completed the ensemble by including two round poles with bike handles for sticks. Although there are many restrictions to the measurements and weight of the sleds used in the Paralympic Games, the basic design of modern sleds remains true to the original 1960s simple sleds for kids. These sleds were then made to be used for hockey.
Despite the initial lack of interest and awareness in the few years that followed, competition between sledge hockey teams started up in 1971 that included five teams in Europe. In 1981, Great Britain established their first sledge hockey team, and that was shortly followed by Canada in 1982. It was not until 1990 that the United States developed their first ice sledge hockey team. Sled hockey continued to expand when Estonia and Japan developed their teams in 1993. Sledge hockey was introduced to the Winter Paralympics in 1994, with Sweden claiming the first gold medal. Since 2010, sledge hockey has been a mixed-gender event. Sledge hockey has become one of the most popular events in the Winter Paralympics.
On November 30, 2016, as part of a group rebranding of the IPC’s self-sanctioned sports outside of the Paralympic Games, and citing that the word “sledge” had differing meanings between languages, the International Paralympic Committee announced that it would henceforth refer to sledge hockey as “Para ice hockey”. Its sanctioning body would accordingly be renamed World Para Ice Hockey.
Equipment – The sticks have a blade curved at one end in a manner similar to regular ice hockey, and generally six to eight metal teeth at the opposite end of the blade for maneuvering and propulsion. Movement is achieved by using the metal teeth as a means to grip the ice and push oneself forward. The metal teeth cannot be too pointy nor protrude farther than 1 cm beyond the stick, to prevent damage to the ice and injury of other players. Other equipment includes a helmet with facemask, shoulder and elbow pads, shin guards, and hockey gloves. Pants and footwear are at the discretion of both the player’s comfort and need. Goaltenders wear the standard mask, chest and arm protector, blocker pad and catching glove, plus a leg pad if they so desire and a stick with teeth on both the paddle as well as the knob of the stick. Additionally, goalies may make modifications to their equipment: a common mod is to attach the plastic outsoles of track spikes onto the outer part of their gloves to aid in lateral mobility.