Graduate student and Northeast Passage/UNH Wildcats sled hockey team player Josh Moran (left) faces off in a sled hockey game. Credit: Jim White
While hockey may be over for UNH's storied varsity teams, the ice hasn't melted yet for the Northeast Passage/UNH Wildcats, a sled hockey team of UNH students, veterans, and community members who will skate in the national sled hockey tournament in Dallas this month.
The team will compete in the top tier of the 8th annual USA Hockey National Disabled Festival, facing off against the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, and San Antonio Rampage. Games are at the Dr Pepper StarCenters in Farmers Branch and Euless, Texas, just outside Dallas.
"It will be a tough battle, but we're going to give it our all," says coach Tom Carr, assistant director for Northeast Passage, a UNH program that provides recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.
The growing sport of sled hockey follows most rules of stand-up hockey. Players, who have lower-body disabilities or amputations, sit in specially designed sleds mounted with a pair of hockey skate blades. Players use two sticks, propelling themselves with metal picks on one end and shooting and blocking with the other.
The Wildcats team, now in its 18th year, is unique among top-tier sled hockey teams in its inclusion of UNH students as well as community members and veterans. Five students will travel to Dallas for the tournament: Dan Santos '15 (North Merrick, N.Y.), Kristy Vaughn '15 (Corry, Penn.), Athan Blaine '15 (Swarthmore, Penn.), and graduate students Josh Moran (Jamestown, N.Y.) Bryan Genovese (Oceanside, N.Y.). Two-time Paralympian Taylor Chace '10, a member of the U.S. national sled hockey team, coaches the team along with Carr and Kait King '11. Vaughn, a lifelong sled hockey player, is the team's only female player.
Filling out the Wildcats roster are three military veterans -- Mike Downing (Middleboro, Mass.), Craig Brady (Norwood, Mass.) and Mike Murphy (Newport, Maine) -- as well as Kip St. Germaine (East Falmouth, Mass.), Kevin Hosier (Raymond) and Luis Aguinaldo (Methuen, Mass.).
Watch a video from WMUR-TV about the Northeast Passage/UNH Wildcats.
The USA Hockey National Disabled Festival is the largest gathering of disabled hockey athletes anywhere in the world. In addition to sled hockey, the festival includes deaf/hard of hearing hockey, special hockey, and standing/amputee hockey. For more information, visit http://www.usahockey.com/Template_Usahockey.aspx or http://www.dallasstarsselects.com/page/show/338532-disabled-festival.
Northeast Passage, founded in 1990, is a nationally renowned UNH program that develops and delivers barrier-free recreation programs for people with disabilities. Learn more.