CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday that London, Ont. has been named the host city of the 2011 World Sledge Hockey Challenge, which will take place from April 19-23 at the Western Fair Sports Centre.
Canada, which won gold in 2007 in Kelowna, B.C. and 2008 in Charlottetown, P.E.I. before settling for silver last year in Charlottetown, will be joined by sledge hockey powers Japan, Norway and the United States. The four teams competing in London were the top four finishers at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.
“Sledge hockey fans in Ontario are some of the most passionate in the country, and with so many Ontario-born players in our line-up, it is sure to be an exciting time for our team,” said Mike Mondin, head coach of Canada’s National Sledge Team. “We can’t wait to get on the ice in London and go for gold.”
“The London sledge community is very excited to have the World Hockey Challenge come to our city,” said Todd Sargeant, president of the Ontario Sledge Hockey Association. “Those who were able to see the Paralympics in Vancouver last March were awed by the atmosphere created with these top teams playing; it was absolutely electric. Londoners have a history of supporting international events like this and we are sure they will be impressed and entertained by these world-class athletes.”
“Tourism London is proud to have secured this most prestigious world event for London,” said John Winston, general manager of Tourism London. “Sledge hockey embraces athletes with a disability and has evolved over the years to become a high profile sport that fosters significant spectator interest.”
The main rink at the Western Fair Sports Centre will undergo some minor structural changes to the benches and penalty boxes, allowing for accessibility on and off the ice and bringing the facility up to compliance with Hockey Canada’s design for sledge hockey accessibility.
Ticket information for the 2011 World Sledge Hockey Challenge will be announced at a later date.
Canada recently selected its 16-player roster for the 2010-11 season and opened its season with a victory over the United States in a three-game series in Toronto. Canada will also play a series of games against the U.S. and Japan in Rochester, N.Y. in mid November, as well as a tournament against Japan, Norway and the United States – the same teams it will face in London – in Japan in January.