Sledge Hockey has come to the Lacombe area with Team Jigger. (Contributed photo)

Sledge Hockey has come to the Lacombe area with Team Jigger. (Contributed photo)

Sledge hockey team started in Lacombe to promote accessible activity

Canada’s favourite sport should be available to all, say officials

Sledge hockey has come to Lacombe, breaking down barriers and providing an accessible recreational option for Central Alberta.

The Team Jigger Sledge Hockey program came out of a recreation and culture grant from the City of Lacombe as well as support from Hockey Alberta, the Paralympic Sports Association, the Lacombe Arena, and other area programs and groups.

Sledge, or ‘Para’ Hockey, is an accessible version of the game.

Ray Wasdal, Team Jigger board director and Sledge Hockey program coordinator, said people who are experiencing mobility issues, including degenerative conditions, can strap into a sled alongside able-bodied friends and family for a game of hockey. It’s very inspiring.”

The Team Jigger Foundation’s mandate is to advocate for accessibility and provide opportunities for everybody to enjoy recreational activities.

Sledge hockey players wear helmets with cages, gloves, neck protectors, and elbow pads. But instead of lacing up skates, players are seated and strapped into an adjustable sled with a bumper at the front and blades directly under the seat.

Players use two short sticks in tandem — one end is bladed for the left or right and is used to handle the puck, pass and shoot. On the butt end of the sticks are ice picks, used to propel the player around the ice.

The program started up in the winter of 2021, with 10-15 participants per session, says Wasdal. “Having a couple experienced players from the former Red Deer program join us here in Lacombe has been extremely beneficial.

The Team Jigger Sledge Hockey program took the ice between the first and second periods of the Lacombe Generals Game vs Morinville on Saturday for a 10-minute exhibition. Darcy Stingel, another Team Jigger board director, said ‘The love of hockey and recreation transcends wheelchairs, or crutches, or physicality.”

The Team Jigger Sledge Hockey program hopes to reach as many Central Albertans as possible. “We are the only sledge hockey program currently operating in Central Alberta,” adds Wasdal, who’s seeking sponsorships from the community to keep the sleds on the ice.

Details on the Team Jigger Sledge Hockey program can be found at www.teamjigger.com/sledgehockey.

Lacombe