COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The fourth annual USA Hockey Special Hockey Classic and second annual USA Hockey Blind Hockey Classic and will take place this weekend (Oct. 21-23), at the SportONE Parkview IceHouse in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The event is open to the public and free of charge. A combined schedule for both the Special Hockey Classic and the Blind Hockey Classic can be found in the document included below.
In conjunction with the weekend festivities, a special blind hockey exhibition game between the U.S. and Canada will take place on Saturday (Oct. 22) at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne. Faceoff is set for 2 p.m. ET and game is free of charge and open to the public.
All games from the Special and Blind Classic will be streamed on LiveBarn and can be accessed by clicking here.
The special hockey discipline is intended to give people with a wide range of cognitive and developmental disabilities the chance to play the sport of ice hockey in an environment that is adapted to their level of ability. The 2021 event was played at the Ohio Health Chiller North Ice Rink located just outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Special hockey athletes play upright and, in most cases, offsides, icing, penalties etc., are not part of game play. Special hockey emphasizes fun through teamwork, social interaction, and improving the quality of life through on- and off-ice activities.
One of the fastest growing segments of disabled hockey, blind hockey features an adapted puck that makes noise and is both bigger and slower than a traditional puck. Players’ levels of vision range from legally blind – approximately 10 percent vision or less – to totally blind. The inaugural USA Hockey Blind Hockey Classic took place October 22-24, 2021, at the Centene Community Ice Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Custom three foot-high nets are used (rather than the traditional four-foot nets) to keep the puck low to the ice so it can make noise and be tracked aurally.
Teams must complete one pass in the attacking zone prior to being able to score. This provides both the low vision defense and the goalie an extra opportunity to track the puck. An on-ice official uses a different whistle to indicate that a pass has been completed and the attacking team is eligible to score.
NOTES: Blind Hockey was first played in the U.S. on October 18, 2014, with the first ever Blind Hockey Summit in Newburgh, New York ... At the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival, in Buffalo, New York, blind hockey was introduced to the rest of the disabled hockey community ... Special hockey programs have been established in over 30 cities in the United States … The inaugural USA Hockey Special Hockey Classic was staged in 2018 and included 10 teams participating at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... For the most up-to-date news on USA Hockey’s disabled hockey program, including information about all six disciplines of the sport, click here.