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Atlantic District Steps Up as Host Site for Toyota USA Hockey Sled National Championships

By Tom Robinson, 04/24/24, 2:30PM MDT


On top of hosting sled nationals, the district also hosted the Warrior National Championships.

WEST CHESTER, Pa. – As USA Hockey’s disabled tournament options were evolving, the Atlantic District stepped forward to help smooth the process.

USA Hockey took the step last summer to establish national championships in two of its disabled divisions, moving forward from national events and disabled festivals that were part of the past routine without declaring national champions.

When the decision was finalized, it was time to move right into the planning stage.

“The Atlantic District took the responsibility for hosting the inaugural Warrior National Championship, and expanded Sled National Championship,”Maureen Thompson-Siegel, the Atlantic District disabled section chair, said.“We said, ‘we’ll do the first round and get it off the ground.’”

The Toyota USA Hockey Sled National Championships were held April 18-21 at the Ice Line Quad Rinks.

The national championships comprised of six adult and three youth divisions, with more than 1,000 players competing across 60 teams. The event washeld one week after Wayne, New Jersey, served as the host of the Toyota USA Hockey Warrior National Championships, a tournament for wounded veterans. 

“This facility is an active partner in the Atlantic District and has lots of experience hosting national events for USA Hockey,” Thompson-Seigel said. “They were a natural choice.”

The suburban Philadelphia location was a bonus.

Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot, made a visit and was a hit, particularly with the youth players.

Off the ice, many participants and their families took in the historic sites, both real and fictional, that Philadelphia has to offer.

“That has kind of been the nice thing,” Thompson-Siegel said over the weekend. “Most of the teams have been going downtown to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Rocky steps.

“The Rocky steps seem to be the big thing. There is enough time between games that they can experience being in Philadelphia.”

The Philadelphia Hammerheads, the host team, helped provide support to boost the experience for those traveling into the area.

“We are hoping to continue to grow it and to provide exposure and a fun experience for the athletes,” Thompson-Seigel said.

Brian Olsen, president of the Hammerheads, acknowledged that members of his organization and parents of players chipped in to help where they could. Along with providing support for the event, they were able to do fundraising through a 50-50 raffle and a silent auction.

“We love the sport,” Olsen said. “We love playing it. When it comes to here,to be able to be in that host role … it’s more work, but we’re enjoying it.

“We’re answering questions. We’re all smiling. It’s a different experience than traveling.”

The Hammerheads operate out of multiple rinks in and around Philadelphia, including the South Jersey suburbs.

“It’s all about getting involved, getting more kids on the ice, getting them going and playing and having fun,” Olsen said.

The program is fully funded through grants and fundraising, relieving families of the burden of covering ice time, equipment and travel.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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