2010-Paralympics National Sledge Hockey Team

Billy Bridges

Two teams down ... one more Scandinavian country to get through.

It is amusing to recall now, sitting in my stall, in our change room, about five minutes before we took to the ice, wondering if anyone had shown up; wondering if there would be a couple of our parents and spouses in the crowd; trying to hear through our pregame music to see if we could hear a buzz in the UBC Thunderbird Arena. Of course this is amusing because when it was our time to explode on to the ice, it was accompanied by thousands of die hard hockey fans screaming at the top of their lungs. It truly is breathtaking, so many people donning their favourite Team Canada jersey – just a sea of red and white. And such a great turnout that it took me two games to spot someone I recognized. And it was indeed one of our biggest fans, a woman who has given so much personal support to the Paralympics, even known to give a pre-game pep talk or two in Salt Lake City – Senator Joyce Fairbairn

We started off quite nervously against Italy in our first game. Perhaps a little sluggish or tired, as a 10 a.m. game means about a 5 a.m. breakfast to properly digest and be ready for competition. Or it could have been the five posts and crossbars. Congratulations to Marc Dorion for scoring the first Paralympic goal on Canadian soil (I guess we could credit the Italian defencemen that it went off of as well, but mostly Marc). Through some very spirited encouragement in the second intermission from five-time Paralympian Shawn Matheson, we snapped out of our funk and buried three goals in the third period.

After a great video session, and some scouting reports we vowed to have a much better start against Sweden. Right from the bus ride to the game, you could tell that we were ready. You could tell that all of the nervous energy that was lingering during the game against Italy was completely gone and we were back to our normal selves. As soon as we arrived in the dressing room we received a phone call from Mark Messier wishing us luck and giving us some great words of encouragement. His key message to the team was focus on execution, not only the result. And I guess it worked because at the end of the first period we had already scored four goals, and we weren't even halfway to our final total. We just had a better vibe with the team, we had fun the whole way, even having a ‘stretch off’ in the room to see who could stretch the smoothest to our classic stretching music.

Last night we had a great reception with all of our family and friends hosted by the CPC. It was so nice of them to give us the platform to repay our greatest supporters with some delicious hors d'oeuvres and some beverages.

The only problem that I have is that we have to wait through an off day until we can have a crack at Norway.

One sleep and counting...
#18 Billy Bridges



Well, here we are, seven years after finding out the Paralympics were going to be held in Vancouver, 316 days since we painfully took home the bronze from the last world championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic and 13 days since we left home, and we can finally begin Day 1 of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics. The Opening Ceremony is always an amazing part of any Olympics/Paralympics, but being able to be that host country and come out last will be something special. Definitely well worth the three-hour wait that usually takes place beforehand, where I'm sure several man-made games will transpire through our creative teammates like Adam Dixon and Greg Westlake. Those guys are great for coming up with perfect ways to beat boredom.

Before we all ship out to B.C. Place to begin the festivities, we are actually lucky enough to have lunch with our Governor General, Michaëlle Jean. I'm not sure if I've ever sat down for lunch with such an inspiring human being before, as she is just a couple of days back from another visit to her home country of Haiti. So we are truly honoured to have this chance.

Of course, just 16 hours after the Opening Ceremony are scheduled to begin, we finally play our first game against Italy. UBC Thunderbird Arena is in peak condition. The ice is soft, but fast. The benches have ice in them (instead of the usual plastic), which makes for fast changes on the fly. And the stands are ready to be filled. It seems half of the benches are temporary metal ones, so it should make for some incredible noise in there. And the good thing about having a morning game is that it won't get in the way of our Jenga championships, shuffleboard tournaments, or Rockband performances in the "Vancouver Salt Co." games room, which is about twice the size of a basketball court filled with enormous beanbag chairs, books, pool tables, and all the video games that eight sledge hockey and 10 wheelchair curling teams can handle (as these are the only sports housed in the Vancouver Olympic Village).

We were excited to hear that hundreds of family members are starting to roll in ... and that's just the Nicholson's. They are staying in a hotel near downtown and the Village, which is nice and handy for those who wish to meet up in our small window of free time, but for some of us, that may conflict with more important things ... like being the world Jenga champion 2010.

Make sure to watch our game, which will air live on Sportsnet Pacific, and on tape delay for those east of B.C.

Expect more soon,
#18 Billy Bridges


For more information:
Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)


2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Preliminary Round
Mar. 13 CAN 4 - ITA 0
Mar. 14 CAN 10 - SWE 1
Mar. 16 NOR 0 - CAN 5
Mar. 18 CAN 1 - JPN 3
Mar. 18 USA 3 - NOR 0
Bronze Medal
Mar. 19 NOR 2 - CAN 1
Gold Medal
Mar. 20 USA 2 - JPN 0
» Click here for complete schedule/results