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Win from Within

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
In theory, a goaltender’s job is simple: keep the puck out of the net.

Late last summer Canucks goalie Ryan Miller experienced a whole new way of going about that and the result was incredible for everyone involved.

Gatorade wanted NHL stars to discover first-hand why sledge hockey athletes exemplify what it means to Win from Within, so they invited Miller, Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Nathan MacKinnon and others to play alongside the Cruisers sledge hockey team and try it.

Check it out.

According to Miller, the video doesn’t do justice to just how difficult sledge hockey is.

“They had a lot of skill, there’s tons of skill involved, it’s definitely hockey,” said Miller. “They have some pretty impressive upper body strength to move their bodies that fast, I was really surprised at the speed of their movements, especially in the open ice. Some of them had great shots too, they get real low with their stick and they can get it up quick.”

As Miller explained, the way he typically tends the net is by using his arms and upper body to block the goal and his legs get him to where he needs to go.

Playing sledge hockey, his legs were locked into the sled, pads overtop, shoed feet sticking up (wrapped in padding to avoid injury), so it was all arms, all the time.

“You have to think more. You have to use your arms to propel yourself and you have to think about getting into position with your arms, and once you’re there, you have to worry about blocking the net too. Your arms are basically your only tools to cover the range of the net where usually it’s your body and your legs.

“I didn’t do too bad, I made some saves, but they must not have shown too many in the video if you’re asking how I did…”

Miller said his finest save was a glove stop on Crosby, other than that he did a lot of windmill pad stacks; “I was locked in a pad stack, so I just went for the big save every time.”

Saying Miller gained respect for not only sledge hockey players, but athletes of all shapes and sizes overcoming obstacles to play the game, is an understatement.

The experience opened his eyes to the inclusiveness of hockey.

“That’s the cool part is you can play hockey all different ways and it’s good to be able to say that I played it that way. Hopefully it raises some awareness that sports are for everybody, it’s recreation, it’s fun, it’s all-inclusive and that was the important part of it.”

Here are a few more videos of NHLers playing sledge hockey, courtesy of Gatorade.

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