Nfld. & Labrador

'How does somebody blind play hockey?': Event kicks off effort to bring game to N.L.

One dad is trying to bring blind hockey to Newfoundland and Labrador for his son who loves the game, but is losing his vision.

'I was scared that I would be too outclassed because of my visual impairment'

Steve Joy says a blind hockey camp in Vancouver this summer prompted him to try and bring the activity to this province. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

If you're puzzled by how somebody could play hockey blind, Steve Joy of Kelligrews isn't offended; he once wondered about it, too.

"A lot of times people don't understand. They say, 'Blind hockey? How does somebody blind play hockey?' ... I felt the same way," he said.

But a blind ice hockey camp in Vancouver — which Joy's son, Brandon, attended — had him wondering no more. Now Joy is trying to make it a regular activity in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Steve Joy's son tried blind hockey in Vancouver, and now he wants to bring the activity to this province. 2:03

Dozens attended an event Thursday put off by the Canadian Blind Ice Hockey Association in Paradise.

"The puck is a larger puck. It's made out of metal. It has bearings inside of it and that's obviously for audible, so that people can hear it," Joy said. 

'It's pretty cool'

Brandon Joy said he loves the sport, but a regular puck poses challenges. 

"Imagine taking toilet paper tubes and looking through those. So it's basically I have no peripheral vision, or [am] losing it," he said. 

"From [a] far distance, I can see stuff. But as soon as it gets closer, I can't really see it at all … If the puck is right by my feet, people with normal vision would be able to see it, but I wouldn't be able to at all."

Brandon Joy attended a blind ice hockey camp this summer in Vancouver. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Brandon explained there's also a two-pass rule so that once you pass the blue line, it ensures the goalie can hear the play, and goalies have to wear a blindfold.

"It's pretty cool," he said, about playing a sport he loves with other visually-impaired people.

The event has already won over new fans. Samuel Massey said he has skated before, but wasn't comfortable playing the sport until this event. 

 "I was scared that I would be too outclassed because of my visual impairment," he said. 

"But now it kind of feels like we're on even playing grounds now, so it feels a lot better."

Samuel Massey took to the ice in Paradise on Thursday. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

With files from Peter Cowan