Sled hockey is relatively unknown in many parts of the United States. But after a decade of steady growth, the Philadelphia region has emerged as one of the hotbeds for the sport, with several top-notch youth sled programs popping up around local rinks.
Now, the Flyers are looking to expedite that growth even further with the formation of the Philadelphia Flyers Sled Hockey Team.
As a by-product of the relative abundance of local sled teams, the Philadelphia area is also home to some of the top individual sled hockey players in the nation.
Many of these players had limited options when they became too old (or just too good) to continue playing at the youth level. With the formation of the Philadelphia Flyers Sled Hockey Team (and the PA Centerpedes before it), these talented players will have the opportunity to take their game to the next level.
The Flyers Sled Team will compete in the Northeast Sled Hockey League (NESHL) against teams from Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
There is no shortage of talent on the current roster for the Flyers Sled Team. Six players have been a part of the US National Sled Hockey Team, including four that were participants in the Paralympic Games: Tim Jones, Mike Hallman, Jimmy Connelly and Mike Doyle.
So what does an affiliation with the NHL Flyers mean to the Sled Flyers?
“These guys bleed orange and black,” said Doyle, a defenseman that also serves as team GM. “Having the Flyers name attached to our team adds credibility. A big part of learning hockey is watching the pros play, and we often use the previous nights’ Flyers games as examples in practice.”
Featuring a roster of 16 players between the ages of 16 and 55 (most are between 20-26 years old), the Flyers Sled Hockey Team is ready to make its mark on the national scene.
The team made its official debut in April at the USA Hockey Sled Nationals, where they finished fourth. With a full summer of practices planned under the tutelage of Coach Greg Scott, the players are already excited about their prospects at the upcoming USA Hockey/NHL Sled Classic, which will take place in the fall.
The future looks bright for the continued growth of sled hockey in Philadelphia, and this talented and courageous group of athletes is poised for success both on and off the ice.