When teenager Ian Dmytriw received his new ice hockey sledge during a Manitoba Moose game last year, he couldn’t hide his excitement.
“It’s a blast!” he exclaimed with a wide grin, saying the new piece of state-of-the-art equipment is a great help toward realizing his dream of playing for Canada in the Paralympic Winter Games. His new sledge is the same as those used by Canadian paralympians when they take on the world’s best players.
A year later, Ian’s enthusiasm was rewarded when he made the senior team of the sledge hockey league at age 16, something he said was helped by the new sticks and sledge he received from the Power Play Goal promotion sponsored by the Winnipeg Real Estate News.
“I’m going a lot faster,” Ian explained. “Since I’m playing seniors this year, I’ve had to step up my game to play at their level, so the new equipment has really helped.
“The sticks have worked out great and I’m able to adjust the blades. It’s perfect. Just what I wanted,” he added.
Ian was the first recipient of a new sledge from the Power Play Goal promotion initiated by the WREN, which this year has been expanded to include the Downtown BIZ as a sponsor.
The WREN and Downtown BIZ are donating $200 for every power play goal scored by the Moose during home games to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation which will be used to purchase new sledge hockey equipment. So far this year, over $1,200 has been raised. Last year, the total raised came to $2,300 and three children received new sledge hockey equipment.
Another new feature this year is that whenever a “fan” signs up on the WREN’s Facebook page, $1 is donated toward the Power Play Goal promotion.
WREN business manager Jo-Anne Wood said the initial response following the recent launch of the promotion on Facebook has been pleasantly surprising.
“Almost immediately, 200 fans signed up, which raised $200 toward our power play promotion,” she added.
Wood is urging others to sign up as fans, “so that we can buy more sledge hockey equipment for the children at the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.”
For the uninitiated, sledge hockey players use two sticks that look like scaled-down versions of regular hockey sticks. While it’s obvious what end of the stick is used to shot and pass the puck, the other end of each stick has metal prongs that players use to propel themselves on the ice while strapped into their sledges.
The modern sledge is a well-engineered apparatus made up of a reinforced plastic seat with two relatively thin metal pipes ending at a slight cage at the end. Two thin blades at the rear and bottom of the sledge allow the players to move up and down the ice using the sticks.
There are two leagues in Winnipeg — one for juniors aged 18 and under and a senior program for those 18 and over. Ian said he is the only player his age on the senior team. From just six players in 2007, there are now over 40 participants in the sport.
The only real deterrent to introducing more youngsters to the sport is that the equipment is expense, and there is still not enough sledges to go around.
“Depending upon who shows up, we’re always adjusting equipment to ensure everyone gets a chance to play,” said Ian’s father Gord.
“It’s quite a production to get the 14 or 15 kids on the ice and you only have an hour to play,” he added.
“The emphasis of the Power Play Goal promotion is to get more children involved in the sport,” said Wood, “and every donation helps us realize this goal.
For more information on the promotion and to sign up as a “fan,” go to www.facebook.com/WRENnews
Sledge hockey player Logan Bilodeau is this year’s ambassador for the promotion and is featured on this week’s WREN front cover as well as on the Facebook site.