The Southwest Florida-based "Florida Ice" sled hockey team is looking for players for the 2013-14 season. The team, which is comprised mainly of athletes with physical disabilities, is hosting a sign-up clinic at the Fort Myers Skatium, 2250 Broadway, Fort Myers, Sept. 22 and 28.
Sled hockey is an adaptive version of ice hockey, modified for athletes with lower-body disabilities. Rather than using skates, players utilize a specialized sled to travel the ice, using their sticks not only for game play but also for propulsion.
The Florida Ice is a recreational squad supported by the Florida Sled Hockey Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides barrier-free recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Ice practices are held weekly at the Fort Myers Skatium, with games and scrimmages held monthly. Players can be any age, skill level, or gender, and the team is also able to accommodate a small number of able-bodied players.
On Sunday, Sept. 22, the team will welcome signups starting at 2 p.m. at the Skatium, and prospective and returning players will take to the ice from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 28, signups will start at 7:30 p.m. and players will have ice time from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Florida Ice players who show exceptional skill may be invited to join the Florida Sled Bandits, a statewide travel team. In both 2012 and 2013, the Sled Bandits won the National Disabled Hockey Festival's Open A Division. Last year, five Florida Ice players were members of the championship team.
The Florida Ice and Florida Sled Hockey Association are sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, the City of Fort Myers, and USA Hockey, among others.