St. Paul, MN – January 18, 2016 – Minnesota Hockey and Prairie Island Indian Community (P.I.I.C.) today announced the continuation of a partnership aimed at the growth of hockey in Minnesota, in particular Disabled Hockey. Over the past seven years, P.I.I.C. has been the primary corporate supporter of Minnesota Hockey’s Disabled Hockey programs and teams, contributing more than $136,000 over that time frame.
Through the generous support of P.I.I.C., Disabled Hockey in Minnesota had a banner year in 2014-15. Among the highlights:
With the Special Hockey, Sled Hockey and Warriors program all growing over the past year, Minnesota continues to be home to the most disabled hockey players in the nation with 350 participants.
The Minnesota Warriors now have over 80 players and are up to three teams, making it the largest Warriors program in the United States. The group will be featured during the NHL Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on February 21. There will be 75 proud veterans on hand to carry the American flag out on the ice for the National Anthem.
In November of 2014, Minnesota’s adult sled hockey team made its first-ever appearance at the NHL Sled Classic in Washington D.C. and took first place. In 2015, the team returned and moved up a tier to place second.
The Special Hockey program increased participation numbers by 20% and will be traveling to the USA Disabled Hockey Festival in Detroit, Mich. and the International Special Hockey Invitational in Lake Placid.
Minnesota Sled Hockey officially expanded into Rochester, thanks to the support of P.I.I.C. and Dr. Michael Stuart and the Mayo clinic community. The program is rostering its first team this year with a full schedule of practices.
The Minnesota Hockey Disabled Hockey scholarship was awarded this year to Maxim Zlotuhkin-Ridgway from the Minnesota Special Hockey Burnsville Rams team.
“Hockey is a way of life in Minnesota and we want to make sure anyone who wants to play has that chance, regardless of ability,” said P.I.I.C. Tribal Council President Shelley Buck. “These athletes are inspirational in their achievements. We are proud to be associated with them and support the program in any way we can.”
The mission of Disabled Hockey is to make sure “Hockey is for Every Body.” The popularity of the sport has grown exponentially over the past 10 years.
"We are so grateful for everything that P.I.I.C. has done for Disabled Hockey, and for inspiring so many people across the state," stated Toni Gillen, Minnesota Hockey Disabled Hockey Director. "Their support does so much for the confidence and attitude of these exceptional athletes."
Minnesota Hockey, a USA Hockey affiliate, is the governing body of youth hockey in Minnesota. With over 67,000 registered players and coaches, it is the largest state governing body for hockey in the United States.