ST. LOIUS (BLUES) – The St Louis Blues are proud to announce its partnership with The Spirit of Discovery Park to form The St Louis Blues Blind Hockey Club (SLBBHC). In celebration of the partnership, the Blues will host a Learn-to-Play event for blind or visually impaired male and female athletes of all ages on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m., at Scottrade Center. Athletes can bring their own equipment or borrow equipment provided by SLBBHC. Interested participants can register by visiting www.stlouisblues.com/blindhockey.
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“On behalf of The Blues, it has been our focus to ensure that any person who would like to play the great sport of Hockey has the ability and the opportunity to do so,” said Blues President and CEO of Business Operations Chris Zimmerman. “The volunteers of Spirit of Discovery Park have done a great job getting this program up and running. We celebrate their energy and heart.”
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Zimmerman is proud to advocate for people battling blindness. On Jan. 31, he will be honored as a Visionary Award Recipient by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). The FFB organization will host its “Dining in the Dark” event at 5:30 at The Ritz Carlton.
The SLBBHC is for players who are blind or visually impaired with 20% vision or less. Skaters who have the lowest vision play defense or goalie, while the more sighted athletes are forwards. Blind Ice Hockey is the same exhilarating, fast-paced sport we know and love, with only one difference: each player is legally blind. In Blind Hockey, the ice puck represents the most significant modification to this specialized version of the sport. The puck in Blind Hockey measures 5.5 inches in diameter and is 2 inches in height. Surprisingly, it weighs about the same as a regular puck but is bigger and slower than its vulcanized rubber counterpart. The pucks metal construction contains ball bearings inside that emit a loud rattling noise to compensate for vision and assist in tracking.
A few other adaptations have been made that address game play and player safety:
1) The top 12 inches of a regulation net are blocked to keep shots low for the legally blind goalie.
2) Once players cross into the offensive zone, they must complete a pass before they can shoot on goal. This rule facilitates compensatory tracking for the low vision defenders and goalie.
3) Standard IIHF safety rules apply, including crease violations and no-touch icing. Players wear traditional protective gear, including a full face mask.
To learn more about Spirit of Discovery Park or find out more information on attending “Dining in the Dark,” visit www.stlouisblues.com/blindhockey.