From 27 March to 5 April, the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships will take place at the New England Sports Centre in Marlborough, USA.
Organized by Massachusetts Hockey in co-operation with US Paralympics, around 200 athletes from ten countries will participate in the World Championships A and B Tournaments.
The A Tournament will be comprised of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway and the United States, all teams that competed at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games and are currently ranked as the worlds best.
The B Tournament will be comprised of Czech Republic, Estonia, Korea and Poland, the second tier elite teams all vying for a position in next year’s 2009 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A Tournament.
Greg Lagacé, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Chairperson, said: ”These championships are a first chance for teams to gain a benchmark as to where they are in qualifying for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. New England Sports Centre is a great venue and a nice location for the new Ice Sledge Hockey World Champions to be determined. We expect both interesting and exciting matches.”
Since Ice Sledge Hockey’s Paralympic Games debut during the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Paralympics, the sport has quickly become one of the biggest attractions for spectators at Paralympic Winter Games. It is fast-paced, highly physical and played by male athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body.
Ice Sledge Hockey is practiced in approximately 15 countries worldwide and is governed by the IPC. It follows the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with minor modifications to eligibility, sports equipment and officiating rules. Instead of skates, players use two-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. They also have sticks with a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.