Chicago Blackhawks beat St. Louis Blues, 5-3, in sled hockey at Illinois Ice Arena
By Ryan Wilson
December 6, 2015
At Illinois’ Ice Arena Saturday night, fans were beating the glass like a drum and screaming their favorite players’ names as they watched the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues, 5-3.
It seemed like most hockey games, except the players — in their teams’ respective NHL uniforms and helmets — sat on double-blade sledges and propelled themselves with two sticks, each with one spike end for pushing and the other for hitting. They push the sledges around the ice like paddling kayaks across water.
It was a game of sled hockey.
It’s a sport for athletes with disabilities. There is a USA sled hockey team as well as 52 other teams in America — some of which are through hospitals or parasports facilities. The Blackhawks are from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, while the Blues are from the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA) in St. Louis.
Sled hockey follows the same rules set by the International Ice Hockey Federation. The teams are also affiliated with the NHL.
Saturday’s game was tied, 3-3, after a St. Louis goal with 8:43 left in the third period. But within the next six minutes, Chicago found some holes in the Blues’ defense and scored twice, resulting in what Blues coach Ken Amsler called a “mad dash to score.”
Chicago scored first in the game, after Matt Amos’ goal to the left side of the net in the first period. The team then scored two more goals in the next five minutes of the second period to take a 3-0 lead.
St. Louis finally scored at the 6:57 mark of that same period, and then five minutes later the team scored again off a shot by Trevor Bunca from the neutral zone that brought his team within one goal of Chicago.
Blues goalie Steve Cash, who Blackhawks coach Bob Roybal said is “arguably the best goalie in the world,” did not play. If Cash had played, Roybal said the end result might have been different.
Roybal’s team rarely beats the Blues, but because the game was an exhibition and St. Louis was without Cash, Saturday’s end result was unusual.