08/10/2010 8:32 AM
- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Two defensemen for the Grand Rapids Sled Wings are among the 17 players named by USA Hockey on Tuesday to the 2010-11 U.S. National Junior Sled Hockey Team.
Nineteen-year-old Jenison native Tyler Anderson
was selected for the second straight season, while 16-year-old Zeeland resident Chris Melton
will make his national team debut as one of 10 new members of the squad. Each has played nearly a decade for the Sled Wings, a talented team of kids and teenagers with physical disabilities that is sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation
, in partnership with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
The U.S. National Junior Sled Hockey Team is comprised of the best young American sled hockey players, who strive to improve their skills and earn a spot on future U.S. National Sled Hockey Teams that will compete in the Paralympic Games and other international events.
While still members of the Sled Wings, Anderson and Melton will take part in multiple camps with Team USA throughout the course of the upcoming season, as well as a pair of exhibition series against Canada’s national junior sled hockey team.
The lone new face on the national junior team last season, Anderson has also played for both the Grand Rapids Junior Pacers wheelchair basketball team and the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association’s tennis team. The 2009 graduate of Jenison High School now attends Grand Rapids Community College.
Melton, a junior at Zeeland East High School, is also a multi-sport athlete. An avid hunter, he plays wheelchair tennis for Zeeland East and is a member of the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association’s tennis and hand cycling teams.
“Absolutely remarkable,” said Bob Kaser
, foundation president and Griffins vice president of community relations and broadcasting. “What a proud day for these two young men, the Sled Wings and the Griffins Youth Foundation. We could not be happier for Tyler and Chris, their families and the kids in our program. Let them all serve as an inspiration for what can be accomplished in life.”
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. They play a popular sled hockey exhibition game against the Grand Rapids Griffins
each winter at Griff’s IceHouse that raises money to help offset some of the Sled Wings’ expenses.
More information about the U.S. National Junior Sled Hockey Team is available at usahockey.com