Sled Hockey Night at Ontario Reign Game
The newly minted Junior Reign Sled Team took to the ice on Saturday, December 10 during the first intermission of the Ontario Reign game. Though the sledders hadn't been able to practice since September, they demonstrated what sled hockey was all about. Elina, Nick, Josh, and Kyung-Moon from the Junior Reign team, and Brock, Will, and Little Mel from the Junior Riptide team showed the crowd of 7,916 people what sled hockey was all about.
This happened because a special donor, Byron Marquez, had set up a jersey auction to benefit the team. He is also a big supporter of the 66er's dance team, and he knows the struggles disabled people have had, especially physically disabled, in getting sports teams in the area.
Since there was going to be a jersey auction, the management of the Ontario Reign decided to have an on-ice demo with our sled team. That would have been easy enough, except for the fact that we only had two sleds total.
Enter USA Hockey! We had applied for a grant for five sleds for our team. USA Hockey gives away several grants like that every year with the stipulation that the team will use the sleds sometime during the year. We did not know about the jersey auction when we applied for the grant. By providence, we got the grant just in time, and Randy Kwapis of Mobility Sports was gracious in getting the sleds made and shipped to us as soon as he humanly could. We received the five sleds on Thursday, and the on-ice demo was on Saturday. Yes, it was that close.
The Reign comped the sled hockey players tickets, and we all got to sit together as a team. When the game started, the athletes and their families went downstairs to get ready for the on-ice demo. Since the sleds were brand new, none of them had been pre-adjusted to the athletes' height. We had each athlete use a borrowed helmet and borrowed gloves and elbow pads. Two of the athletes had their own, but the rest had to borrow from the team's supply.
Luckily, it was "teddy bear toss" night. That's where people bring stuffed animals to throw on the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the game. The stuffed animals get donated to a charity. In this case, the stuffed animals got donated to Toys for Tots. A lot of hockey teams do this for a home game during the Christmas season. Not only did Toys for Tots get a load of stuffed animals, since the goal was scored while we were getting ready, it bought us some time in getting ready. Whew!
The team lined up at the Zamboni gate, and as soon as the bell sounded to end the period and the Ontario Reign and Las Vegas Wrangler players left the ice, our sled players got on. The demo was short; it was only five minutes. Apparently, there are strict rules for how long the intermissions can be, and the home team has to get all the on-ice demos and displays over, and get the Zamboni to finish resurfacing before the time is up.
The people cheered wildly for our players! It was so encouraging to hear.
Not only did we have a great time, but we bring the team luck. They beat the Las Vegas Wranglers 5-2.
The jersey auction happened after the game. Players came out and people bid on the game-worn jersey off their backs-sweat and all. Winners of the auction also got a pair of hockey socks, and some players had other items to throw into the auction such as Los Angeles Kings tickets, and a motor scooter. The lowest winning bid was $450 and the highest winning bid was $3,000.