Nathan Linsz looks up to Parker Revier in more ways than one.
Linsz and Revier are teammates on the USA Standing Amputee team, and both led their group during the opening week of the 17th annual Toyota-USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival, March 30-April 2. The 17-year-old Linsz participated in his first festival alongside the 27-year-old Revier, a USA Standing Amputee team veteran, who stands 6 feet, 7 inches tall.
“[Linsz] literally has to look up at him,” said David Crandall, the team’s doctor. “It’s been really exciting to see [Linsz] play and learn from Parker, who has been a leader on this team for a number of years. It’s an exciting opportunity.”
Linsz and Revier are both below-elbow amputees. Linsz runs a bungee cord through his stick, attached to his glove, and clips supports onto his equipment, which allows him to hold his stick. Revier can’t close his glove. Instead, Revier’s glove is locked into one position that’s comfortable for him and he’s able to trap pucks in the netting or scoop from the ice.
“Both of them are excellent goaltenders,” said Pete Henry, the team’s head coach. “If you look at them in a game, you would have no idea that they have any limitations at all because they both play at a very high level.”
The Toyota-USA Hovkey Disabled Hockey Festival brings together all six disabled hockey disciplines and spans two weekends. This year, it’s taking place at the Maryville University Ice Center and the Ice Zone ice rink in the greater St. Louis area. The festival is the largest disabled event of its kind and one of USA Hockey’s most significant events each season.
“The first week of the festival went fantastic,” said Maureen Thompson-Siegel, USA Hockey’s chair of the disabled section. “Everyone had a really nice time, the local host was excellent and every little detail was taken care of. It was perfect.”
Thompson-Siegel said there were 26 special teams, which included about 50 blind players and warrior teams during the first week. Blind, Special, Standing Amputee and Warrior hockey were all featured during the first week, while sled hockey takes center stage during the second weekend, which runs from April 13-16.
Thompson-Siegel said the festival will host a record 130 teams, including some 850 players during the first week alone.
“The festival grows every year, but this is the largest number of teams that we’ve had to date,” Thompson-Siegel said. “It just shows the growth of the sport throughout all of the disciplines. The more we get the fact that these opportunities are out there for people with different abilities, the more we expect the growth to continue.”
The inaugural festival in 2005 included 24 teams and nearly 300 players. The mission of the festival is to provide a fun and exciting weekend of hockey in a grand event, while also promoting and growing disabled hockey throughout the country.
Revier has played with the U.S. Standing Amputee team for close to a decade. He initially played with the team as a teenager, then went to college and returned following graduation. Henry said the team just met Linsz for the first time in person at the tournament.
“The most important part, with any of these players, is when they walk into the room, and you’re in a room where everybody else in there has something going on, you no longer look at yourself as different,” Henry said. “Being in a hockey locker room is one thing, but being in a room for the first time ever with like-minded players is unique … Everybody is the same, and it’s the first pure moment that these guys realize there’s no limitations. They enjoy the process of knowing that they’re not alone.”
Revier played three games and allowed five goals on 46 shots for a 2.32 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage. Linsz appeared in two games, giving up one goal on 16 shots for a 1.22 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
Linsz is a standout on the Kenston High School (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) hockey team, while Revier, through his time with the group, has experience playing internationally.
“It has been a pleasure working with both of them because they’re such good kids,” Henry said. “They work very hard at their game. Both are excellent goaltenders and will do whatever you ask.”
In the past, Henry said there would be two or three camps, the festival and then a world championship event. He hopes to build to that again in the future.
Until then, the main goal is to promote a culture of understanding and inclusion.
“In the end, what it’s really about is giving these guys a chance to walk into a locker room with people in the same situation and to realize that you’re far from alone,” Henry said. “There’s a certain camaraderie and then you build friendships. You get a chance to communicate and learn from each other.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.