COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey is proud to join the National Hockey League, Colorado Avalanche and Athletica Sport Systems in the unveil of a revolutionary on-ice sled bench prototype, as a legacy of the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series.
The Legacy initiative investment includes the creation of the first-ever, on-ice player bench designed by Athletica Sport Systems to accommodate sled players of all levels – one that all partners believe will revolutionize the sled hockey environment in terms of safety and accessibility during game play. This prototype will be left behind along with a donation of new sleds and sticks to bolster local programming and welcome newcomers to the sport. Colorado Springs Tigers Hockey will also receive 10 new sleds and sticks.
USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher joined NHL VP of Business Development & International Affairs Kevin Westgarth, Colorado Avalanche Community Ambassador John-Michael Liles, Athletica Sport Systems’ Reid Hart and members of the Warrior Avalanche, Colorado Sled Hockey and Colorado Springs Tigers Hockey teams at Sertich Ice Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. for the Wednesday night announcement.
A prototype of the boards.
“Through the passion and dedication of our grassroots volunteers across the country, disabled hockey continues to grow and today has six disciplines, including sled hockey,” Kelleher said. “The NHL is a great partner in the game, and we applaud their efforts through this legacy project to contribute to helping advance the hockey experience for our sled players.”
U.S. National Sled Hockey Team captain Josh Pauls, who also served as a special ambassador for the NHL’s Hockey is For Everyone campaign, was an eager and active voice during the creation and modification process with Athletica Sport Systems.
“Sled hockey is a game, not unlike its other forms, where speed, skating, and precision are key,” said Pauls, who is currently playing in a two-game series in Canada and was unable to attend today’s event. “While traditional benches are useable, they are far from optimal in providing a full hockey experience to participants. This new design of sled player benches has the potential to revolutionize the way the game is played in rinks across the world and provide a more inclusive experience for players that is also economically feasible for community rinks. Growing the game is the most important goal in our sport today and these new benches allow us to spread the game to more places and people.”
"Hockey's glidepath toward greater inclusion is accelerated through social innovation," said Kim Davis, NHL Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. "With this legacy project, we identified a challenge faced by disabled athletes in sled hockey and designed an infrastructure solution intended to improve gameplay, safety and equity in the sport."