At first glance, it appears to be like any normal hockey game — until you see a strobe light that stops play much like a whistle.
More than 200 athletes from across the country gathered in Edmonton recently for the 2012 Canada Deaf Games for curling, volleyball, bowling and hockey at the University of Alberta.
Cole Laing, 16, was one of those athletes.
The Blackfalds centre, who goes to Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite High School, was proud to show off his silver medal that his western hockey team — made up of players from Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan — won at the event.
As an avid hockey player with Blackfalds Minor Hockey, Laing says playing with all-deaf teammates was a bit of a change.
“It is a lot different,” he said, communicating via a sign language translator.
“All of the players have to take off their hearing aids and there is a lot of signing on the benches.”
Laing, who has been playing hockey for 12 years, said he wears a hearing aid and can slightly hear when someone yells for the puck in regular hockey. But with the deaf games, he had to pay close attention to the coaches and his teammates, who would communicate by waving their sticks.
“I would yell and then remember they can’t hear me so I started to wave my stick all the time,” he said.
Laing didn’t seem to have much of a problem. The teen scored two goals and had four assists.
He was one of three 16-year-olds who played on the team. Other players ranged from 18 to 35. The team won the chance to compete against other Canadian teams in Toronto in August.
From there, some players will be chosen to represent Canada in the World Deaf Hockey Championships in Finland in February.
“I am very happy about this because it could give me a chance to go to Finland,” Laing said.
“It is my first time travelling that far with hockey.
“I think I enjoy this way more than regular hockey because there was a lot more stuff going on,” he said.
Now Laing is encouraging the deaf community to get involved.
“I would like to say that this is out there for them,” he said.
“They have the opportunity to have fun and travel with what they love to do.”
“We never knew about this and so other kids, deaf or hard of hearing, are able to participate,” said Laing’s mom Leah.
“It was amazing to see,” she said.
For more information, visit 2012deafgames.ca or albertadeafsports.ca.