Minnesota Hockey Journal

February 2015

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18 MINNESOTA'S SLED HOCKEY PROGRAMS PROVIDING OPPORTUNITY, CHANGING LIVES E very hockey player has his or her own story. Some grew up on the Iron Range, learning to skate on the outdoor pond, while others share experiences of Bloomington Ice Garden or All Seasons Arena in Mankato. You've probably been to all of these places if you're a hockey family in Minnesota. But if you want to hear some truly remarkable tales about a love for the game, sit down with any member of a Minnesota sled hockey program and prepare yourself. "Hockey changes lives — that's our BY JESSI PIERCE ZOE WREN AGE: 14 // HOMETOWN: FARGO Zoe Wren had to overcome her fair share of struggles, starting at birth. The now 14-year-old was born three months early after her mother suffered Preeclampsia. Zoe entered the world weighing in at just 2 pounds, 7 ounces. At 14 months old she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. But that wasn't going to stop Zoe. She found sled hockey at the age of 5 and has been steadfast on the ice ever since. Sled hockey has brought out the outgoing and confident kid inside. She is able to interact and play with kids who have faced similar adversities in the Moorhead recreational league. — Adair Grommesh EZRA MCPHAIL AGE: 23 // HOMETOWN: ANTIGO, WIS. Ezra McPhail was most comfortable on the ice. He earned his way into the NA3HL junior hockey league with high hopes of playing college hockey. But in December 2011, Ezra suffered a paralyzing hockey injury. He would never skate again. Ezra maintained resilience, find- ing sled hockey. He took the sport by storm, earning an invite to U.S. National Development Sled Camp. "I arrived (at camp) and quickly learned it was the same as an able- bodied camp," said Ezra. "I also learned the way I play in both sports is the same." Ezra shone at camp, being named to the U.S. National Development Sled Hockey team roster. Next up on his list of goals: the 2016 Paralympics. — Toni Gillen STARS TYLER SHEPERSKY AGE: 10 // HOMETOWN: MENAHGA Tyler Shepersky was born with no muscles in his legs. Diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, a constriction of the joints, at a young age, Tyler's hips, knees and ankles have limited use. He has been bound to a wheelchair full-time. Despite that, Tyler still thrives on the ice. He added sled hockey to his list of favorite things when he picked up a sled and stick three years ago. Tyler and his family drive 90 miles one way to get to sled hockey in Moorhead each week. It's the same determination to get to the rink that Tyler keeps in looking at his future. He aspires to play sled hockey in the Paralympics someday. — Adair Grommesh

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