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MN Special Hockey History

Our History

Minnesota Special Hockey was founded by Susie Miller in the Spring of 2006. It started at Richfield Ice Arena with six one-hour Sunday skate arounds for individuals with disabilities. When almost 50 participants from all over the Metro area attended, she thought that this had the potential to be a permanent ice hockey program with participants not only from the Metro area but possibly state-wide.

During the Summer of 2006, Susie contacted Jane Cashin, Rick Carlson and Chris Winkel.  Her enthusiasm for having a Special Hockey program in Minnesota got them on the bandwagon.

Eventually the 4 of them realized that there needed to be more people involved with this program.  They talked to a number of people who were enthusiastic about the idea. Minnesota Special Hockey was soon formed as a corporation with founding Board members Toni Gillen, Cheryl Caffrey, Jane Cashin, Cindy Coughlin, George Holden, Joe Kelly, Susie Miller, Rick Carlson and Chris Winkel. Later on, MSH requested and received approval to be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Two teams, the "Stingers" (coached by Rick Carlson) and "Polars" (coached by Chris Winkel), were promptly formed, and the inaugural season was kicked-off in Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota, helping to attract additional skaters and attention to the events. The Star Tribune also ran a story about the Kick-Off Event helping to secure MSH’s first donation to the program. The president of Premier Bank contacted Susie Miller to say, "I was told to find you and give you money." They then sent a check for $1,500 to help get MSH off the ground.

Minnesota Made Ice Center was the first to step-up to support our program, donating ice time for the first season. Quality jersey’s were also needed, but weren’t in the budget until the Minnesota Wild called to say they had a group of season ticket holders that wanted to donate $1,200 to a local group, and they wanted to give the money to us! We were able to order the jerseys we wanted, and this was the start of a great partnership with Section 108 season ticket holders and Minnesota Special Hockey, which still exists today.

In the 2013-2014 season, we’re looking forward to nine teams with about 150 players. Our program is centered around weekly Sunday one hour games or practices, which run from the first week in November to the first week in March. In addition there is a summer get-together (generally a picnic), the season Open Skate event in October at Mariucci Arena (University of Minnesota), the Madison tournament in February, and the USA Disability Festival in March.