The Tampa Bay Lightning sled hockey program is ready to take its game to another level in 2015-16, bolstered by a new head coach, Bill Hannigan, as well as new and exciting programs to grow participation and awareness of the sport.
Hannigan, a US Army veteran, currently works for the Wounded Warrior Project, where he serves as a physical health and wellness specialist. During the previous 18 years he has also worked as director of adaptive sports of Eastern Paralyzed Veterans and at St. Charles Rehab Hospital. Having been a wheelchair user for more than 20 years, Hannigan has made sled hockey his passion. After suffering a spinal cord injury at the age of 24 he used the game as a gateway to recovery, even trying out for the United States National Team. Since then Hannigan has founded the New York Rangers Sled Hockey Team and also helped to form the Northeast Sled Hockey League.
The Lightning Sled Hockey Team will have an open practice on Saturday, October 10 from 1-2:30 p.m. at Amalie Arena. The session is open to the public and anyone who is interested in participating. The Lightning will have equipment for newcomers to use. Following the practice there will be a coaches meeting to answer any questions or concerns about the upcoming season.
New for the 2015-16 season is the Lightning Sled Hockey Youth Program. They will partner with the Space Coast Hurricanes and plan to compete against other Florida teams as well as a home-and-home series against the Nashville Predators Sled Hockey Team. They are also planning on competing in the Disabled Festival held in Detroit this Spring.
The Lightning’s adult program will be more structured and competitive in 2015-16. That includes games against other adult teams across North America. The team is already signed up for the USA Hockey Sled Classic, to be held November 19-22 in Coral Springs, Florida, in which they will play other NHL-endorsed teams from around the league.
Current sled hockey practice schedule:
Saturday, October 10 1:00-2:30pm
Sunday, October 18 12-1:30pm
Sunday, November 1 12-1:30pm
Sunday, November 15 12-1:30pm
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Sunday, November 29 12-1:30pm
Sunday, December 13 11:45-1:15pm
Sunday, December 27 12-1:30pm