Nicholas Boisvert steps out onto the ice confidently. His skate blades cut into the ice, holding their edge as he accelerates through a turn and speeds up the rink.
He didn't expect to do this again.
"I lost my sight in 2012, so it's been a few years," he said.
Boisvert, 35, grew up playing hockey. He played in high school at Richfield and in intramurals in college. But he has Best disease, a degenerative condition that took about 80 percent of his vision in his late 20s.
"I really missed hockey, and when I lost my sight it was really hard to adjust in not being able to play and then this came along and it gave me the chance to play again," he said.
He said when he stepped back out onto the ice it felt like "home, it felt like I could be happy again, being able to get out there and skate. It just felt natural."
Boisvert is one of 18 players who are part of the Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey program. It's the first program of its kind in Minnesota.
"I didn't realize how big it was going to be when we first started," said Toni Gillen, disabled programs director for USA Hockey in Minnesota. "I thought we'd maybe get one or two players, but the overall amazing response we've gotten from people that were like, 'What took you so long to get this started?' So, it really is it's embracing a whole other community out there that we have not had hockey for in the past."