It’s been an exciting month for Team Alberta as they won their second gold at the 2017 Canadian Sledge Hockey Championships held in Boucherville, Quebec. They won their first gold at the 2016 Canadian Sledge Hockey Championships held in Leduc.
“It’s pretty awesome to go undefeated two years in a row with a program that’s rather new compared to some of the eastern countries like Quebec and Ontario,” said the team’s defenceman Tanner Fandrey.
The tournament took place May 12th – 14th, and the team went undefeated with record of 4-0. The gold medal versus host Team Quebec had a final score of 3-0.
“There were a couple of new guys there that got to experience what it’s like to have to push through all those games in one weekend so it’s pretty cool,” said Fandrey.
With six teams competing, they were all split up into two pools.
In one of the pools it was Team Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba and in the other, it was Team Nova Scotia, Ontario and B.C.
“So we played round robin against Quebec and Manitoba and then they did a quarter final and then a semi final after that, and then the actual final,” he said.
For 21-year-old Lacombe native the sport of hockey has been in Fandrey’s blood ever since he could remember.
In 2009 he was diagnosed with a bilateral condition called Avascular Necrosis and then Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2012. He was told he would never be able to play stand up hockey again. It was soon after that his father, who worked at the Dawe Recreation Centre had seen sledge hockey in action, telling his son to give it a shot.
“I went out, basically borrowed a sled, tried it out and then started going into camps during the summer, and then started playing full time from October of 2010,” said Fandrey.
And he’s been playing the sport ever since.
He said when it comes to sledge, the hockey itself is very similar to that of stand up hockey.
“The game is played the exact same way. It’s just with skating you’re in a bucket instead of standing up.”
The rules, too, he said, are the same, including the use of the benches.
“The biggest difference that I see honestly is the physicality is quite high in sledge hockey. It’s totally full contact, but we also protect ourselves by basically having this metal frame around our legs and body, so we hit crazy hard, so it’s really exciting that way. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush for me.”
He first got into the sport of hockey in general, he said, because it’s just Canadian.
“I’ve played hockey ever since I can remember honestly. Hockey’s been a part of my life ever since I could walk and my dad’s always been an operator in many different hockey rinks.”
Fandrey said he will be hanging out for the summer, and then training to get ready for next year to eventually make the national team. He said trials will likely begin in August or September to train for the next national championships, which will be held the same time next year in Vancouver.
After being on the development team for sledge hockey this year with Hockey Canada, he said he hopes to continue playing with them and eventually making the national team for the Paralympics.