Minnesota Special Hockey is an adapted ice hockey program for players of all ages with developmental disabilities. We exist to enrich the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through increasing their personal development and self-confidence on and off the ice by:
• Having Fun
• Learning Team Work
• Gaining Friendships
• Increased Physical Activity
We are proud to support over 280 hockey players in 16 cities across the state of Minnesota. Our regular season runs on Sundays from the beginning of November until the end of February, with national and international festivals in March and April, and many fun non-hockey related events happening year-round.
Minnesota Special Hockey is growing rapidly across the state, contact us to find or start a program near you!
To enrich the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through increasing their personal development and self-confidence on and off the ice by:
The Minnesota Special Hockey Board seeks to provide the opportunity for all Minnesotans with developmental disabilities to play ice hockey.
Since our first season in 2006, we've heard so many heartwarming stories about how players have been positively impacted by their participation in Minnesota Special Hockey. We've heard everything from new friendships made, significant weight losses, gained athletic and life skills, increased confidence, "coming out of your shell" stories and so on. We hope you are touched by these testimonials as much as we are!
"The coaches were great helping my son learn the game of hockey. He loves to skate but tends to be in his own world and it is a struggle to get him to participate in activities at home. The last game of the season he tried to hit the puck a few times during the game, something he had never done before. He broke his wrist sledding and we brought him to games when we could and the players and coaches were all genuine about missing him and hoping he would heal quickly and get back on the ice. They helped us teach him what it means to be part of a team during that time. I feel we are getting everything out of hockey that we expected for him. I'm very thankful for what Minnesota Special hockey has provided for my son and my family."
My son is 13 and has Autism and ADHD. He has 4 brothers who also played hockey and he LOVES hockey! Regular association level hockey was too intensive for him though and he didn't enjoy it because of how often they had practice, games, etc. and the competitiveness. With MN Special Hockey however, he LOVES hockey again! He is excelling and is excited for each and every game and practice! He moved from the "C" line to often now playing on the "A" line and he is so proud of his accomplishments. I am so grateful for this league and what they do for these kids. It is phenomenal and I am constantly recommending it to anyone who I think could benefit from it. THANK YOU!!
"This organization is fantastic. The opportunities it provides the players and the connections the families make off the ice are fantastic. It's just what life should be all about. This organization is inclusive and celebrates everyones abilities rather than complaining about the players "inabilities" as occurs on a 'typical' hockey team. Minnesota Special Hockey is great. Thanks for the extra opportunities this year, we hope to do even more next year!"
My player, Jack, is the third of four children. All his siblings participated in hockey and he spent many hours watching his older siblings play. He would always go home and play knee hockey and would get out on the neighborhood rink and attempt to model the actions of his siblings on the ice. I knew that he would not be able to be successful in the local association hockey program due to the pace of the action and, at that time, I was not aware that he would ever be able to participate on a real ice hockey team. I knew Jack wanted to be just like his older siblings but I didn't believe he would ever have the same opportunity to enjoy the sport of hockey, the sense of team bonding, and the chance to make good friends on a team. But then I located MN Special Hockey and immediately signed Jack up for the Polars. He was so excited when he got his first jersey. He slept in it. The coaches and volunteers were very supportive and accepting of the challenges that came with helping our son stay engaged, learn to skate and connected to the players and pace of the play around him. Patience paid off and now he glides across the ice, stick handles and shoots on the net. Often it isn't the correct net but he's working on that.
Our son has loved hockey his entire life. The day he could learn to skate he was SO excited!! The past three seasons he skated with our local association but never quite seemed to fit in. His team had only one coach and no parent skaters. It was impossible for their coach to handle 10+skaters on the ice AND the bench. Cooper has never been a very aggressive skater...I am not sure we ever saw him ever handle the puck during a game. The kids started to notice and tease him. Each week it seemed like he was being picked on. He loved skating and had fun at practice but games were stressful. It was heartbreaking. With only one game left in the season we packed it up with the hope that it was NOT for good.
When Coop was diagnosed with Add/ADHD this last year- we realized that the typical association play was not the best fit for him. My mom's coworker skated with MSH and we watched our friend Eric play last year. Eric encouraged us to have Cooper try his team out (and we are SO glad we did!).
Right from the start we have felt completely welcomed. The first game we were so proud to see how Coop was feeling much more comfortable skating on the ice. The kids are just happy to be skating and competing without the pressure we felt previously. One of his first plays he went out of his way to help a team member score- not worrying about scoring himself. We were so proud!
This past week was incredible though- Cooper scored the first goal of the game, another goal and an assist! The look on his face- skating over to us at the glass- was PRICELESS!! While scoring is the thing I am LEAST worried about, him having that moment was truly amazing. Then we look over on the bench during the game to see Coop and another teammate- arms around each other. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
We cannot thank everyone enough that volunteers to make this opportunity happen for our kids- it's been the best thing ever!
Words cannot even begin to describe how impactful Minnesota Wild Special Hockey has been for my son, Owen, and our entire family. You see, Owie was always the tag-along...the lil rink rat sibling who hung out and watched his three older brothers play...he ALWAYS wanted to play but we knew that our local hockey Association was not equipped to accommodate all of his needs...so it has always been my dream to find a team for Owie. In the Fall of 2016 I performed a desperate google search looking for something..ANYTHING that Owen could call his own. I entered the words "special" and "Hockey" into the search field and BAM! Next thing you know I am speaking with Jane Cashin who enthusiastically welcomed Owen to join the team.
Last year was incredibly difficult for Owen and our family. He developed behaviors that tore our family at the seams. As a single mom of six, the struggle was very, very real. Therefore, Owen only was able to make a few events...like two:)(..but at the end of the season we STILL received an invitation to the team party. I could not believe it!!! I felt ashamed and told Coach Jerry that we really weren't part of the MSH family because of owen's limited attendance. Coach Jerry fired back telling me that NO MATTER WHAT Owen was a member of the Woodbury team. WOW! ....Pure acceptance, love, compassion ...I really have never been so overcome with a feeling of peace...not just Owen but I also felt that our family had finally found a place where we felt understood. We did not feel different like outsiders....THAT gave me such peace and joy!.
...Flash forward to this year...Owen has made HUGE strides in the area of behavior and his therapy team and I have concluded that it is due in GREAT PART to MWSH. God answered my prayers when we found Minnesota Wild Special Hockey.
- Andrea Donar