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GRIFFINS BATTLE SLED WINGS FEB. 22

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will face off against the Grand Rapids Sled Wings in their sixth annual sled hockey game next Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook NE). This friendly but spirited competition will pit the entire Griffins roster against the Sled Wings, a team of physically challenged teenagers sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Sled Wings, who boast a three-year winning streak against the Griffins, will be led by Tyler Anderson and Chris Melton, members of the U.S. National Junior Sled Hockey Team. The Griffins, meanwhile, have only one player on their roster who has experienced the thrill of victory in sled hockey: defenseman Derek Meech, who played in the Griffins’ lone win against the Sled Wings on Dec. 5, 2006.

Festivities will begin at 6 p.m., when fans can try out a sled on the ice ($1 donation), challenge a Griffins player to air hockey or bubble hockey ($3 donation), and enjoy a free autograph session with Griffins players. The game will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the game can be purchased at the door for $5. Children 2 and younger are free. All proceeds from the evening, including a silent auction and 50/50 raffle, will benefit the Sled Wings program and the Griffins Youth Foundation. The event is sponsored by the Griffins, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation.

The Sled Wings, who became the first junior-level sled hockey team in Michigan upon their founding in 2001, have gained a national reputation through wins in various prestigious tournaments and their continuing development of high-caliber players.

Sled hockey rules are virtually identical to traditional hockey, except participants sit on bladed sleds. Players use two shortened hockey sticks with a blade on one end and a pick (similar to a toe-pick on a figure skate) on the other end, which enables them to propel themselves across the ice. As in traditional hockey, checking, penalties, and hard slap shots are all abundant in sled hockey.

Sled hockey made its Paralympics debut in 1994. It originated in Sweden in 1940 and was introduced in the United States in 1989, with the first team based in Minnesota.


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