Billy Bridges, sledge hockey

Billy Bridges, right, practices with Kevin Rempel, left, before the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. (Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Sochi will be a fourth Paralympic Winter Games for Billy Bridges, regarded among the best sledge hockey players of all time. He was on Canada’s fourth-place team in 2010 and took gold in 2006. At the 2006 Paralympic Games, he was named to the tournament all-star team.

He is also a six-time world team member, including on Canada’s 2000, 2008 and 2013 gold medal squads. In 2013, Bridges helped Canada to gold at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Toronto and the Four Nations Tournament in Sochi, Russia.

One of his greatest performances came at the 2009 Hockey Canada Cup in Vancouver. He led all scorers with nine goals and six assists as Canada roared to a gold medal.

He was born with spina bifida, which limits his mobility. He uses crutches and sometimes a wheelchair. But the 15-year national team veteran has a one-arm slapshot that’s been clocked at 80 miles per hour.

Bridges, 29, is married to three-time Canadian ice hockey Olympian goalie Sami Jo Small. They met in 2006 and married in July 2011. He has taught her how to play sledge hockey; she often guards the net when he practices with teammates.

Bridges played wheelchair basketball professionally in Spain. As a member of Team Ontario, he won seven consecutive national championships and a gold medal at the Canada Games. He also helped Canada to gold at the 2001 World Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships. He also competes in wheelchair tennis on professional circuits and is ranked in the top-200 in the world.

Off the ice, he studies English literature at the University of Toronto and is a spokesperson for Right to Play, which promotes a healthier and safer world for children through sport. He was born in Summerside, P.E.I.

Courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee