How has life with hockey led you to Team USA?
“I’ve always been obsessed with hockey. I played it from when I was 4 until I was 18, when I graduated from high school. I didn’t really give up on it, but I was working a lot, living on my own and paying for rent…I just didn’t have time to worry about trying to get to practices or play in a men’s league. I figured someday I’d have a son, he’d play hockey, I could coach, and I’d get back into it that way. Which I did do, and then I found out about [blind hockey] so I got both!”
“My first experience with Team USA, Kevin Shanley called me up and invited me to a tryout. That tryout event in Chicago was the most fun I’ve ever had, really, until [Team USA training camp] in Utica. It was life changing. There are only a few moments in life where you know exactly why you were put on this earth, and that was one of them for me. I was right where I needed to be, in the right place at the right time.”
What does Blind Hockey mean to you?
“When I was 6, I first started going blind and I had that hope still, that I don’t care about this blindness, I’m going to play for the Bruins and drive race cars and nothing is going to slow me down. Obviously, by the time I was 10, 11, 12, I realized I’m not going to be playing for the Bruins. But it still didn’t stop me, I still figured I’d be the best little hockey player I could be. I used to think I was the only crazy blind person that wanted to play hockey. I quit playing hockey for almost 20 years, and then I found out about blind hockey almost exactly 1 year ago. Sept 3rd last year I went to my first blind hockey event in Hartford and I fell in love with it instantly. I started going to every practice, every other week."
What does being a member of Team USA mean to you?
“Being on Team USA, it’s hard to say this is even a dream come true, because I wouldn’t have even dared to dream to play in the national arena. It’s something I couldn’t have dreamed of. If the Bruins want me now, my price goes up!"
"The first time I ever heard the national anthem played while wearing the USA jersey…kind of indescribable. Hearing the national anthem when you were a kid, you felt proud wearing team colors. But it’s not quite the same as when you’re wearing Team USA and people in the stands are chanting ‘USA USA USA.’ I had tears in my eyes. I won’t lie, there were definitely tears during that last night in Utica. That was the most amazing part of that whole week.”
“I remember as we were lining up to shake hands after the game, I remember tearing up and choking up, skating over to the goalie. Luckily, we’re all blind and no one can see that. I was trying to clear my throat, get back to being macho guy before skating over to the team. I just remember not wanting to leave that ice. Just wanting to live in that moment and hold onto this forever. I won’t forget that moment ever.”
Who is your favorite team or favorite player?
“The Bruins. And Cam Neely, the best player of all time as far as I’m concerned. He can take Wayne Gretzky down 1 on 1 any day. What’s really cool too about Team USA is I'm #8. I never got to be #8 when I was playing as a kid, because where I grew up everyone wanted to be Cam Neely. So I always had to settle for #16, 8 times two. Now, for the first time ever, I get to be #8 on a team and it happens to be the national team.”
Who is your hockey hero in your life?
“My parents. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my parents putting me in hockey, taking me to 4 am practices. They’re still taking me to practices and I’m 34 years old!”
Help Support USA Blind Hockey’s Journey to the Paralympics.
Fresh off an exciting inaugural year, Team USA Blind Hockey Team is skating right into a brand new season! In just a year, Team USA has gone from tryouts full-fledged international team. Following our training camp last year, Team USA faced off against Canada in the FIRST-EVER international competition. After that series in Pittsburgh in October, Team USA ventured north of the border to take on Canada in Toronto.
This tremendous growth wouldn't be possible without out an amazing level of support from our fans, friends and family!
As we continue to build up the sport of blind hockey in the United States, we need YOUR help to reach our fundraising goal for operating expenses for the team. Our players and coaches have been putting it all on the ice to build this team so quickly, and after one round of competitive play against Canada, they are hungry to do battle again.
Your support will give these blind hockey athletes the opportunity to participate and compete in these events. All donations will go directly to the team to help with player transportation, equipment, custom blind hockey pucks, and all the other costs of starting a brand-new team. Let’s help these athletes flourish, and show them that they have our support as we grow the sport of Blind Hockey.
The sport of blind hockey has tripled in size since when it was first implemented at the USA Hockey Disabled Festival in 2016 and we’re incredibly proud of our first Team USA for blind hockey.
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Groups and individuals raising money for the same goal.
|Dave Svac - Asst. Coach||0||$0|
|Doris Donley - GM Team Operations||1||$20|
|Ian Essling - Staff||0||$0|
|Kline Donley - Asst. Coach||1||$200|
|Malisa Komalarajun - Staff||2||$33|
|Mike Svac - Head Coach/GM Hockey Operations||0||$0|
|Nick Albicocco - Asst. Coach||0||$0|