Blind Hockey is the same exhilarating, fast-paced sport as Ice Hockey with only one main difference – all of the players are legally blind.
Players’ levels of vision range from legally blind – approximately 10% vision or less – to totally blind. Blind Hockey is an excellent spectator sport as it is easily recognizable to the average hockey fan, with minimal rule adaptations to help with gameplay and player safety.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
Typically, totally blind athletes play goal (or defense); lower sighted athletes play defense; and higher sighted athletes play forward.
The puck is bigger, slower and makes noise compared to a traditional puck so the players can locate it.
Custom 3 foot high nets are used rather than the traditional 4 foot nets to keep the puck low and near the ice so it can make noise and be tracked aurally.
Teams must complete one pass in the attacking zone prior to being able to score. This provides both the low vision defense and the goalie an extra opportunity to track the puck.
An on ice official uses a different whistle to indicate that a pass has been completed and the attacking team is eligible to score.
Tag-up off-sides is used with the assistance of verbal communication from on ice officials. The game is played with standard IIHF safety protocols including no-touch icing, and crease violations to ensure utmost player safety.
All players must wear full protective gear including face mask.
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey is dedicated to providing children and adults with vision impairments the opportunity to participate in ice hockey. The program will focus on basic skating and hockey skills. We strive to promote and emphasize the development of sportsmanship, team spirit, increased confidence, pride, and team unity.
Blind Hockey has been played in Canada since the early 1970’s. The sport was first played in the U.S. on October 18, 2014 with the first ever Blind Hockey Summit in Newburgh, NY. At this event local players and visiting Canadian players formed two teams and played two structured games, following a try-it session which introduced the sport to many new players. At the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival in Buffalo, NY, blind Hockey was introduced to the rest of the Disabled Hockey Community.
Again, U.S. and Canadian players came together to form two teams and played a single exhibition game. Word has spread quickly about this new discipline of hockey, and players and programs have sprung up all over the country. The Blind Hockey Summit is now an annual USA Hockey sanctioned event which brings players and administrators together from across the country to play and grow the sport.
As one of the fastest growing segments of Disabled Hockey, blind hockey is a great opportunity for those individuals with vision impairment to be a part of the best sport in the world, ice hockey!
In 2018, Minnesota Hockey, in partnership with the Minnesota Wild, announced the launch of Minnesota's first-ever blind hockey program. Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey opened its inaugural season on October 21st, 2018 at HealthEast Sports Center in Woodbury, MN.
The program is open to players of all ages with visual impairments. Players must register online to participate and will be required to wear full equipment on the ice. A limited supply of equipment may be available for use.
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey will host weekly ice sessions throughout the season with a focus on teaching basic skating and hockey skills. The program will strive to promote and emphasize the development of sportsmanship, team spirit, increased confidence, pride, and team unity.