Members of the 2016 Division 2 National Champion Little Avs Sled Hockey Team (White) enjoy a sled hockey scrimmage against the Quebec Qualifier Champion Arapahoe Warrior PeeWee AA (Purple) at Family Sports
As another hockey season comes to its conclusion, teams take a moment to look back on the memories that made this year so great. Recently, two Colorado teams that had a lot of success during the 2015-2016 season got together to make some new memories and share a few laughs together, all while raising awareness and understanding through the great sport of hockey.
The 2016 USA Hockey National Festival Division 2 National Champion Little Avs Sled Hockey team and the 2015-2016 Quebec Qualifier Champion Arapahoe Warrior PeeWees got together at Family Sports to participate in a sled hockey scrimmage that would mark the first time that any of the Arapahoe players had ever been on a sled. On the other hand, it gave the Little Avs Sled Hockey squad an occasion to showcase their skills while also showing everyone what hockey means to them.
"We try to raise awareness of our program in the community and let the kids have fun" said sled hockey coach Larry Stoiber. "when the kids are leaving they come to understand that they are all hockey players, kids, and athletes. That they have more in common than they do differences."
With the help of the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association, and several others, the plan to have the Quebec Qualifier PeeWee Champions play in a post season scrimmage with the Little Avs Sled Hockey team came to fruition this year. With continued support and participation, it is now intended to be an annual event.
"It is CAHA's goal to provide and focus on the ultimate hockey experience for all players, regardless of age, gender, or ability" said Doris Donnely, Colorado Amateur Hockey Association's Vice President for Adaptive Hockey. "This event allows for the kids to see all that the hockey world has to offer. It also gives our sled participants a chance to display their abilities and competitive nature on a level playing field all while demonstrating that we all belong to the same family of hockey."
The Little Avs Sled team have scrimmaged several different teams throughout Colorado including the Arapahoe Warriors, Denver Pioneers, Colorado Thunderbirds, The Rough Riders, Boulder Valley Bison, Pikes Peak Miners, Cherry Creek, Ralston Valley, Littleton Hawks and others.
The team currently travels to two out-of-state tournaments a year, The Silver Stick tournament in Fort Wayne and the USA Hockey Nation Disable Festival. They are looking to add a third tournament next year in Grand Rapids and are hoping to add a youth division to the WSHL adult tournament that is hosted annually in Denver.
The Arapahoe Warrior Peewees won the Quebec Qualifier hosted by the Colorado Avalanche back in November at the Pepsi Center. In February, they represented the Avalanche in the Quebec International tournament.
Overall they played eight games, six exhibition games and two tournament games. All of Arapahoe's exhibition games at the Quebec International Tournament were very close. They ended up 1-4-1 in the exhibition against some very good competition. They also played against teams from England, San Jose, New York, and three teams from Canada, culminated by a 4-3 win in their first tournament game vs Slovaki. They would advance to the winners bracket, eventually falling to the team that ended up winning the tournament at the AA level.
As for the scrimmage against the Little Avs, "This was the first time any of our players had the opportunity to play sled hockey and they all loved it. Even us coaches got out there and I can honestly tell you it was one of the funnest hockey games I've ever played in." said Arapahoe PeeWee Coach Sean Leonard. "The Little Av's are very fast and they all can stick handle and pass so it was a challenge for our kids to keep up with them. It wouldn't surprise me if we seen a few of these players in the Olympics some day."
A big tap of the stick to all those who helped make this event possible. And thank you to all the participants, parents, and coaches for allowing us to be part of such a great experience. There were definable plenty of smiles and laughter to go around.