Canadian and US national sledge hockey teams open development camps at UCCU Complex


By Joel Charron

National Sledge hockey teams from Canada and the United States brought their development camp to the UCCU Complex last week.

The two countries are preparing their rosters from the 2012 Paralympics. Three games were played at the UCCU Complex. The games were held Thursday and Friday afternoon with a third and decisive third game played Saturday night.

The US took home the first game Thursday, winning 3-2 however Canada shutout the US 2-0 in Friday’s matchup. Canada would also win Saturday night’s tilt 3-1 to take the series two games to one.

This is the first of two training camps between the two nations. The second camp is schedule in April and will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Canadian sledge hockey goalie Kevin Duchane stretches out to make a glove save during practice last Wednesday afternoon

Adam Crockatt, manager of hockey operations for Canadian national teams, said holding the three-game series in Amherstburg made sense from a geographical standpoint with the Canada-U.S. border being nearby. However, Amherstburg stood out for another reason, he noted.

“This facility is fantastic for sledge hockey,” he said. “This is the biggest reason why we decided to come here, because of the facility.”

Crockatt added that the players were excited to start the three-game series and mentioned that many of the players have played together before, either as part of the national development program or through Team Ontario.

Canada’s Brendan  Blanchard said he is familiar with the UCCU complex, as he practices at the facility every Wednesday as a member of the Essex-Kent Ice Bullets.

“It’s one of the best facilities I’ve played at,’ said Blanchard.

Blanchard said he was excited to get on the ice and don the maple leaf.

“It’s always an honor to put on the Canadian jersey and play for your country,” he said.

Chris Cederstand, a former Western Hockey League player said he’s grateful for the opportunity to play for the Canadian national program.

“It’s something I didn’t get to do while playing stand-up hockey,” said Cederstand.

Cederstrand, who lost most of his right leg five years ago after a construction accident, said the complex “looks great” but was especially looking forward to playing the U.S. squad. He said there is always a rivalry between Canada and the United States.

“There is always an animosity between the two team,” he said.

Cederstrand mentioned that he just started playing sledge hockey about three months ago and is enjoying it.

Team USA head coach Mike MacMillan admitted at a practice Wednesday morning there was some rust on his team after not being together for over one month but he did like the surroundings of where his club was practicing and playing.

“We drove up in the parking lot and I was amazed. In the middle of a field is this amazing complex,” he said.

MacMillan said his job is to develop players who will compete for roster spots for the US team that will play in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Paralympics.

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