CALGARY – Hockey Canada, in collaboration with head coach Jeff Snyder, announced on Tuesday the 18 players that will make up the 2007-08 National Sledge Hockey Team.
Canada returns 16 players from its 2006-07 team that finished with a 13-2-1 record and took home the inaugural World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold medal in March in Kelowna, BC, capped off by a 1-0 overtime win over Norway in the gold medal game.
Mark Noot (Waterloo, ON) returns to the national team after missing the 2006-07 season, while Derek Whitson (Chatham, ON) will make his Team Canada debut in 2007-08. All 18 of the players were selected by the coaching staff following a series of development camps and a final selection camp in St. John’s, NL in September 2007.
In addition, head coach Jeff Snyder announced that Jean Labonté (Hull, QC) has been named captain for the 2007-08 season. Labonté will be joined by alternate captains Billy Bridges (Summerside, PEI) and Hervé Lord (St-Pamphile, QC).
Labonté has been a member of Canada’s National Sledge Hockey Team since 1996, and was a member of Canada’s only gold medal-winning team at the IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship, in 2000 and the gold medal-winning team at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
“It is a tremendous honour for me to be selected as captain for the national team,” Labonté said. “I look forward to wearing the Canadian jersey once again this season, and bringing the world championship back to Canada.”
“Jean has been a valuable member of Canada’s National Sledge Hockey Team for a number of years, and he is a natural choice to captain the team in 2007-08, especially with a world championship on the horizon,” said Snyder.
Canada’s season will culminate with the 2008 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship, March 26 to April 5 in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
2007-08 NATIONAL SLEDGE HOCKEY TEAM SCHEDULE
October 22-29, 2007 Three-game series vs. Norway Gjovik, Norway
November 14-18, 2007 Three-game series vs. USA Park City, Utah
January 23-27, 2008 International tournament Asahikawa, Japan
February 20-24, 2008 Three-game series vs. USA Edmonton, AB
March 26- 2008 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship Marlborough, Massachusetts
Sledge hockey is the Paralympic version of ice hockey. It made its debut at the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The fast-paced sport has grown in popularity since then.