Canada's Paralympic success inspires young Alberta sledge hockey athletes
Novice players gathered in Calgary to watch gold medal game on Saturday
The Paralympics have wrapped up in Pyeongchang, and Canada's success is giving a group of young sledge hockey players inspiration that they too will one day make their marks on international ice.
The Calgary Venom, the city's novice sledge hockey team, showed off their skills at the Stew Hendry Arena on Saturday with visiting Edmonton sledge hockey players, before gathering to watch the men's gold medal game between Canada and the U.S.
The U.S. captured gold with a 2-1 overtime victory.
"It just inspires me, to like, keep working hard to just try and get there," said 13-year-old Kale Crisp, who hopes to make Team Canada one day.
"I think it would be really fun to represent the country ... it's kind of like the NHL of sledge hockey."
Crisp is just one of dozens of kids between ages five and 16 who play junior sledge hockey in the province.
He's been playing for eight seasons.
"My brother plays hockey, but I was born with a disability in my legs so I couldn't play regular hockey. So I wanted to find a way for me to play," Crisp said.
Caitlin Bergin is the head coach of the Venom. She said the Paralympics are a great way to inspire more people to get into the sport.
"I know that there's kids out there who just don't know about us, and we try to get the word out there as much as we can and then there's a lot of towns throughout Alberta, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, that have a couple of kids, but not enough for a team," she said. "And so getting the word out so that kids know that they have this sport available to them is really important."
"I hope it gets the word out there, and they go out there and Google the sport and come out to play."
Bergin said the sport is for hockey players of all abilities — some players on the team have conditions like cerebral palsy, while others are able-bodied.
To find out more about sledge hockey, visit the Calgary sledge hockey website.
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With files from Terri Trembath