Red River boy’s hockey team gets introduction to sled hockey

Team partnered with non-profit HOPE Inc. for exhibition

Hope Inc.jpeg
Participants from Red River High School's boy's ice hockey team, and youth athletes from Hope Inc, pose before an exhibition sled hockey game at Eagles Arena on Thursday, Dec. 8
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GRAND FORKS – Red River High School’s boy’s hockey team partnered with Hope Inc, a Moorhead, Minnesota-based nonprofit organization specializing in adaptive sports, to organize an exhibition sled hockey game at the Eagles Arena on Thursday night.

Senior defenseman Garrett Eickman said he enjoyed his first experience playing sled hockey, and attested to its differences from ice hockey.

“It was a lot of fun, something I’d definitely do again,” said Eickman. “The hardest part was stopping and turning without falling over. There’s a lot of upper body work involved, like pushing off on the ice with your triceps.”

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Hope Inc., offers a wide range of adaptive sports for youth and adults with impaired mobility, including wheelchair baseball and basketball, downhill skiing and curling. Although the organization is based in Moorhead, it serves communities throughout the Red River Valley, including Grand Forks

“We have about 230 participants in adaptive sports, around 40 of which play sled hockey, and they each have their individual story,” said Bill Grommesh, executive director for Hope Inc. “We serve a wide range of physical disabilities.”


Tim Skarperud, coach of Red River’s ice hockey team, said the event was a positive experience for both his team and Hope’s youth athletes.

“I called Bill before the season started, and told him we wanted to give our guys a different experience,” said Skarperud. “It’s pretty cool to watch these Hope players, they have nothing but smiles on their faces. We wanted to show our guys that it’s not just about hockey, it’s also about helping the community.”

Grommesh said events like Thursday’s exhibition serve to raise awareness of the capabilities of Hope’s youth athletes.

“The promotional aspect of our work is really important,” said Grommesh. “Our junior sled hockey team plays about 12 different teams throughout the year, including boys and girls high school teams, police departments and football teams. We try to expose people to the world of adaptive sports. I don’t think this group that played with our kids tonight will look at somebody with mobility challenges in the same way again. I think they’ll leave this experience realizing there are more similarities than differences between them.”

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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