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Canada to host 5th annual blind ice hockey championships

  • Date: 21-03-2017
  • Related to: General
A blind ice hockey player moves forward with the puckIce hockey for the blind and partially sighted continues to grow and expand from its base in Canada.

Although not an official IBSA sport, we are happy to promote blind ice hockey as an additional sporting opportunity for visually impaired people.

Canadian Blind Hockey/Hockey Sonore Canada brings us this media release on its upcoming 2017 Canadian National Blind Ice Hockey Tournament in Toronto from March 24th to 26th:

Fifth annual tournament has record number of US players as parasport quickly grows across North America; Entire tournament to be broadcast in HD free of charge

(March 17, 2017) The fifth annual Canadian National Blind Ice Hockey Tournament takes place March  24–26 in Toronto, Canada. The event will showcase the best Blind Ice Hockey players in the world as they compete in three different divisions throughout the weekend. The entire tournament will be streamed live for free in HD, with professional play-by-play to make the sport accessible to all fans. For details on how to watch the web broadcast, as well as more information about the sport and the tournament, please visit blindicehockey.com.

The sport of Blind Ice Hockey is growing rapidly across North America, thanks to Canadian Blind Hockey and USA Hockey. Back in 2013 at the first ever Canadian National Blind Ice Hockey Tournament, nearly all players came from only three programs, with a single American player participating in the event. Five years later, the tournament now has players from across North America, including players from nine different Blind Hockey programs. 

The 2017 tournament features athletes from US clubs the New York Nightshade, Washington Wheelers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins Blind Hockey programs, as well as Canadian clubs the Toronto Ice Owls, Hiboux de Montreal, Vancouver Eclipse, Calgary Seeing Ice Dogs, and Edmonton SeeHawks.

The sport of Blind Ice Hockey is played by athletes who are blind or visually impaired using an oversized adapted puck that moves slower than a traditional puck and makes noise. The sport uses modified three foot high nets (one foot shorter than a traditional hockey net), and teams must complete one pass after the centre ice red line to be eligible to score. For the first time ever in 2017, athletes will be divided into three different divisions based on level of vision, experience, and skill.

The Select Division is the most competitive stream of the tournament, and uses both the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) classification system, as well as a point system to ensure each team has the same approximate amount of vision on the ice at all times.  Goaltenders must be classified as B1 – completely blind, and a team can have a maximum of three B3 players (10% vision), and two B2 players (5% vision) for a total of 14 points on the ice at any time.

The Select Division of Blind Ice Hockey is extremely fast, competitive, and provides a role for athletes of all different IBSA classifications of visual impairments. Canadian Blind Hockey and USA Hockey are working towards holding the first international Blind Ice Hockey series sometime in the next two seasons, which will showcase the game’s immense potential as an international parasport.
 
With US programs growing rapidly under the leadership of USA Hockey, Canadian Blind Hockey is searching for other countries to start competitive Blind Hockey programs, with the goal of founding a Blind Ice Hockey World Championships, and growing the sport in time to apply for inclusion in the 2026 Paralympic Games.

Game Broadcast Schedule
 
Friday, March 24     
4:15 pm - 4:30 pm           Opening Ceremonies
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm           Select Game # 1
6:15 pm - 7:30 pm           Open Game # 1
7:45 pm - 9:15 pm           Low Vision and Development Game # 1
           
Saturday, March 25            
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm           Select Game # 2
3:15 pm - 4:30 pm           Open Game # 2
4:45 pm - 6:00 pm           Low Vision and Development Game # 2
           
Sunday, March 26    
9:00 am - 10:15 am         Low Vision and Development Game # 3
10:30 am - 11:45 am       Open Division Game # 3
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm         Select Division Game # 3
 
All of the games will be featured through a live web-broadcast with HD video and professional play-by-play to make the game accessible to all fans. For those who want to listen to the audio only, it will be available through tournament presenting partner AMI – Accessible Media Inc.  All times below are North American Eastern Time Zone (UTC -5). Visit blindicehockey.com for viewing and listening options.

New in 2017 is the Low Vision and Development Division. This stream will primarily include players who are extremely low vision or completely blind. There will also be some players in this division who have more vision, but are newer to skating and the sport of hockey. This is an exciting experiment for the sport that was requested by the lowest vision players. Canadian Blind Hockey looks forward to working with our athletes to grow and develop this division of Blind Ice Hockey.

Finally, the Open Division includes a wide range of players including younger up-and-coming players, older athletes, and players who did not qualify for the Select Division. Canadian Blind Hockey recognizes that some athletes who are visually impaired, but do not meet the criteria of legally blind, are still unable to fully compete in traditional hockey. For this reason, players who fall into the unofficial B4 category (20% vision) are also allowed to compete in this division.

Following the Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament, there is a two week break in the hectic North American Blind Hockey season before the 2017 USA Hockey Disabled Festival – Blind Hockey Division in San Jose, USA, which takes place April 6–10.

Any individuals who are interested in participating in the sport of Blind Ice Hockey in anyway including as players, coaches, administrators or volunteers are encouraged to email info@blindicehockey.com.
 
Matt Morrow
Executive Director, Canadian Blind Hockey
Sport Director, International Blind Ice Hockey Federation
www.blindicehockey.com


Caption: Canadian Blind Hockey/Hockey Sonore Canada logo. 



 
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