With notoriously long winters, Western New York and sledding often go hand-in-hand.
That was never more evident than July 9 when five Buffalo natives were named to the 2008-09 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
Selected from 42 paralympian athletes across the country, the 16-member squad including Mike Blabac (Buffalo, NY), Chris Manns, (Buffalo, NY), Brad Emmerson (Amherst, NY), Adam Page (Lancaster, NY) and Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, NY) are set to compete in several internationally sanctioned events throughout the year.
The season begins Nov. 4 with the Four Nations Challenge in Canada and continues in January with the Japan Challenge, held in Nagano. The team will also participate in the VANOC Series in Vancouver and the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Europe through April.
Each member of the team has previously competed in either World Championships or Paralympic Winter Games, while all five representatives from the Queen City have played for the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team.
The league, part of WNY Physically Challenged Youth Sports, allows “players with mobility limitations, amputees and able-bodied players with knee, leg or hip injuries” to compete in hockey.
Sled Hockey has been a premier paralympic sport since it debuted in 1994 Lillehammer Games, according to the U.S. Paralympics Web site. The US team first captured gold in the 2002 Salt Lake City games.
Click here for more information on the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team
or the US National Sled Hockey Team
Buffalo Sabres forward Drew Stafford
recently spent time with some of the members of the US National Sled Hockey Team. Click below to watch his visit with the local team:
DREW STAFFORD VISITS BUFFALO SABRES SLED HOCKEY TEAM