Desire. Desire to play. Desire to succeed. Desire even to make it to the NHL.
That's where Special Hockey comes in. There are no age groups. There are no tryouts. They don't even need to be able to skate. All they need is what they already have desire. They will learn how to skate, how to hold a stick, how to handle a puck, how to make a pass, how to take a shot, how to make a save. Some may learn by the end of their first season, others may take years. What they will all do immediately is participate at every practice and at every game. That's because they don't have to meet anyone else's expectations, only their own. Special Hockey allows the developmentally challenged to achieve their own goals on their own schedule.
They will learn about teamwork. They will gain self-confidence and self esteem. They will learn from their coaches, but more importantly they will learn from their peers. They will see and imitate the better players. A seven-year-old may play on the same line as a seventeen-year-old or even 27-year-old. They will be matched by ability but the coach may also include a better player as a positive role model. And these more experienced players look forward to be being mentors for the rookies. This may mean laying back a bit to let a rookie skate with the puck without being checked. Or it may mean a goalie may "not try too hard" to stop a shot. And they love doing this, because they too were rookies once and they too like seeing the smiles as much as we all do.
The rules of the game are also modified. There is no icing, no offside and definitely no body checking. Male and female, young and old all play together. Coaches are allowed on the ice during games to assist players that need it. If one teams line has a player with very low skills then they will be allowed to add an extra player to compensate. But they all still participate.
For more information please visit Special Hockey International.