With a day off between games at the 2007 World Sledge Hockey Challenge, Canada’s National Sledge Hockey Team took the opportunity to not only have a longer practice, but also to interact with some future Canadian sledge hockey hopefuls at the Capital News Centre on Wednesday.
After practice, the team invited those who were interested to get on the ice to get a bit of one-on-one time with the team they’d spent the last two nights cheering for.
“We’ve been received so well here in Kelowna, the fans have been really great to us,” said head coach Jeff Snyder. “It’s nice to see [the players] out there interacting with the kids and the kids are enjoying themselves, so it’s great.”
One of the biggest thrills of the afternoon had to be the chance to meet last night’s overtime hero Greg Westlake, who was just as excited to have the opportunity to meet the kids.
“To come out here and show them what kind of equipment we’re using and how we play the game, hopefully it will spark some kind of trend to grow the sport across Canada,” said Westlake, who now has three goals to go along with one assist after the first two games.
“Its so important to meet the people who, [because of] their disability, will never get the chance to play on the national team. Those are the kids that really look up to you and think you’re their hero. It’s so rare as a Paralympic athlete to meet people that look up to you and think you’re their Wayne Gretzky.
“They’re thanking me and I’m trying to thank them for making me feel so good. They’re making my day as much we’re making there’s.”
After an intense couple of games against the USA and Norway, Snyder welcomed the day off Thursday.
“It’s nice to have the day off, we played Tuesday and Wednesday and had to battle hard in both those games, especially the one last night,” Snyder said. “It’s nice to have the day of and have a little bit longer practice.”
The Canadians will now take on the winless Germans in the final game of the round-robin. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. at the Capitan News Centre, following the Norway- USA game, which gets underway at 4:30 p.m.