Who can play?
Special hockey is a stand-up hockey league for any individual with a developmental disorder. We have players with almost every developmental disorder imaginable... autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscle disorders and everything in between!
We will make accommodations for individuals who use a chair while learning to skate. This chair must be controlled by a qualified MSH volunteer and must be under volunteer control at all times for the safety of all the athletes on the ice. USA Hockey does not allow any type of wheelchair on the ice at any time.
If you use a wheelchair, are deaf/hard of hearing, or have a visual impairment, these other hockey programs are a great option to check out and are likely better suited for your needs.
Minnesota Sled Hockey - for individuals with mobility issues like paralysis and amputations
Minnesota Blind Hockey - for individuals with visual impairments
Minnesota Deaf/Hard of Hearing for individuals with hearing loss
How old do you have to be?
We have players as young as 5 and a few now that are in their late 50s, who can play for as long as they are able to play.
Can girls play?
What if I've never played or skated before?
No problem! We will help you learn. Skating is a very important part of the game so we do recommend taking skating lessons at your local rink to help get in extra practice. Some rinks even offer adaptive lessons! We've also compiled a number of skills tutorials for when you want to practice on your own or with a friend.
What equipment do I need?
We've got a handy picture here for all of the basics. You will want a practice jersey and socks to start. New players will receive 1 pair of MSH Wild socks, 1 white MSH Wild jersey and 1 green MSH Wild jersey from MSH. Replacement jerseys can be purchased during the registration process.
That's a lot of equipment, I don't know that I can afford it all.
We can help! We collect a bunch of donated gear in various sizes to help you get started. However, for safety, you should go get properly fitted and buy your own new certified helmet. Having an up to date, certified helmet ensures your noggin is safe! You should also consider getting fitted and buy your own skates. If you need help, you can contact Jane and she will help get you going.
How do you put on all this gear?
Here is a handy video to get you going. Arrive 30-60minutes early to practices and games to give yourself plenty of time to put on gear and tie skates.
How much does it cost to register?
The USA Hockey fee is free for players new to hockey and approximately $50 for returning players. The Minnesota Special Hockey fee is $125.
I have some financial hardships and can't afford the registration fees.
We offer financial assistance! We don't want fees to stop you from playing. So you can apply for a $125 MSH registration scholarship during the MSH registration step of the sign up process.
Founding Board Member/President
When is the special hockey season?
Registration starts September 1st every year. Practices and games alternate every Sunday starting the first Sunday of November running to the last Sunday of February. We often get invited to and attend regional, national and international special hockey festivals that often are on weekends in March and early April.
We participate in high school adaptive sports or Special Olympics too, how does that work?
That's fantastic! A large number of our players participate in other activities and adaptive sports. Usually there is no overlap. But when they do, we won't tell you what to do, the choice is yours. All we ask is that you keep your special hockey coach in the loop for the choice you make that day so they know to expect you or not.
Which team is closest to me?
We currently have MSH teams in 16 cities across Minnesota: Alexandria, Blaine, Brainerd, Burnsville, Centennial, Duluth, Edina, Lakeville, Moorhead, Maple Grove, New Hope, Plymouth, Rochester, Rogers, St. Cloud, and Woodbury. If your town is not on this list consider playing on a team that is closest to you for now, and then gather up a bunch of your local friends with special needs to play and ask us to help get a team going in your town!
How do games work?
When we have games, some of our teams will travel to the home rink of another team to play a game. The rules are generally the same as typical hockey except we have no checking, no offsides, and no icing. Lines typically play 2-3 minute shifts, then a horn blows, we change lines and continue on. Sometimes we award 'penalty shots' to players who don't get to touch the puck much.
That's great but how are they matched up?
We have two ways of matching up for a game. The first is by skill-based lines and the second is by skill-based teams.
With skill-based lines, each team has an A, B and C skill level line that will match up with a similar A, B or C skill level line from the other team. This is our typical game type.
With skill-based teams, players of skill level A form two teams and play each other, players of skill level B form two teams and play, and players of skill level C form two teams and play. Most of the time these types of games are at festivals. BUT a couple times per year we play these types of games during our regular season. We will have a few of our teams come together and then split up in to skill based teams.
Each way offers a bit of a different competitive aspect, social aspect, and team aspect which gives diverse experiences to all players involved. Since both game types are based on skill and not age, gender or size this means that boys and girls, young and old, big and small could be competing on the same lines. Fear not, we assure you this is very rarely an issue.
Wait, we get to travel?
Of course! For most of our games travel is a relatively short distance and is the players responsibility to arrange transportation. However, for some games the travel distance is farther (say for example, a metro team going to Duluth). When games are over 75 miles away, MSH will provide a team bus and arrange for post-game food. We also have the opportunity to travel to festivals hosted all over the world!
How do I explain all this to my child on the autism spectrum, do you have social stories?
We sure do! Our current version is attached here:
MSH B/C team picture before their last game at the US Disabled Hockey Festival.
16 Teams across Minnesota
What other events do you have?
Every year we have numerous other events that we participate in during the season and in the offseason including: a summer picnic, training camps, mid-season MSH Jamboree, skates with local association teams, exhibition skates to help raise awareness for MSH, fundraising events, promotional events and much, much more!
Tell me more about the Festivals.
Every year we are invited to a number of post-season festivals (fun hockey tournaments). They are optional for players to attend but are highly recommended. Most festivals offer 3 games per team (based on A, B, or C skill level) and at least some type of social event that usually has food and DJ/dancing. Pin trading is a popular way for athletes to socialize. For the bigger ones we also try to visit some local landmark. We typically have all our teams attend the Hendrickson Foundation Festival and send a team to either the USA Hockey Disabled Festival or the Special Hockey International Festival. For any of the other festivals, players may choose to attend on their own and we will help them find a team to play with. More festival information can be found here.
What's the Hendrickson Foundation?
We're glad you asked. The Hendrickson Foundation is an organization dedicated to growing the game of hockey in the disabled disciplines through raising awareness, raising funds, inclusion of all individuals with disabilities and supporting the disabled hockey programs in Minnesota. The Foundation is one of our biggest and best supporters. Every year they host two major events, a Golf Festival fundraising event and a Hockey Festival event to celebrate disabled hockey. It was started by the legendary hockey family led by MN Hockey Hall of Fame member Larry Hendrickson. You can learn more about them here.
Whoa, that sounds great but how will I know when these events are happening?
Some events we know about well in advance. Others we find out very shortly before it happens. We try to send out info as soon as we know the finalized important details. The primary methods are sending out a league wide email and posting to our website, which also has an accompanying mobile app you can download, and then sharing via our social media channels. A calendar is available on the website/mobile app that will list the events when we post them. Find us on:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn.
Do you have a player handbook?
Sure do! The current version is attached on the page below, with a new version due out soon!
Miley takes a break during the MSH Jamboree
Hendrickson Foundation Logo