NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WJMN) – “Sled Hockey is an adaptive sport for individuals who have a lower limb disability,” said Allen Beauchamp with Sled Hockey U.P. Sled Cats. “So basically anyone that cannot play traditional ice hockey, this sport is available.”
Beauchamp made sled hockey a thing in the U.P. four years ago.
“So since 2016,” said Beauchamp. “I actually went down to Grand Rapids and tried the sport for the first time. Brought it back up to Marquette.”
Beauchamp used to play traditional ice hockey until accident an made him wheelchair bound, but this sport gets him right back into the game he loves.
“To be able to go back and continue playing a sport that you always loved your entire life, I don’t have words,” said Beauchamp. “It’s amazing.”
The team ranges through all skill levels, with the youngest being 12-years-old and oldest being 73-years-old.
“I may be the oldest player but I have the spirit of a 25-year-old,” said Jim “Doc” Susorney.
Doc has been on the U.P. Sled Cats team since the beginning. He says once he’s one the ice, his disability disappears.
“I’m relatively new to being disabled,” said Doc. “I had an accident, it would be six years this summer and I try to do what I can. But I never envisioned the feeling when I’m on the ice with my sled. It’s like oh I can do it. It’s like the old days before [the accident enjoy probably as much as anything, being on the ice.”
The team’s goalie, Jason Brannas has also been on the team since the beginning.
“This sport here occupies you, also it makes you stronger,” said Brannas. “By having your arms move around more it gives you more momentum.”
The teams travels to Grand Rapids every March to compete once a year and they’re always looking for more people to join their team.
“A lot of people get intimidated when they see the sport sled hockey,” said Beauchamp. “Especially if their in a chair or they have certain mobility challenges. My suggestion is come out, watch it. You’re more than welcome to try. It’s free. We have a partnership with SAIL Disability Network of the Upper Peninsula. Once you get out on the sled, everybody’s even. So that’s the great part about the sport.”