BUFFALO, N.Y. — Step onto the rink with the Toronto Ice Owls, and you would think they're playing your typical game of hockey. The movements, the sounds, the energy is all the same.
But the Ice Owls are coming to Buffalo to bring us our much-loved sport in a new way.
Many members of the Ice Owls have a varying degree of visual impairment. They play an adapted version of hockey, known as "blind hockey."
Partnering with VIA: Pathways for the Visually Impaired, a local organization devoted to empowering people of all ages with visual impairments or blindness, the Ice Owls will spend Sunday at RiverWorks. They'll help young people with visual impairments learn how to skate at 1 p.m., then play a full regulation game at 2 p.m.
VIA's READY program helps to connect young people and their families under their umbrella of services to community activities. VIA will also be partnering with the Buffalo Sabres to bring Sabretooth to the game.
This hope is that the event can build momentum for a local blind hockey program, as well as show the community how people with disabilities can play sports.
Blind Ice Hockey at RiverWorks
VIA READY program was scheduled to skate from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Ice Owls game, which included young athletes from Buffalo, Albany and Pittsburgh, started at 1:30 p.m. The puck dropped at 2 p.m., and fans could meet Sabretooth from 2 to 3 p.m.
Can't make it to the game? You can watch online here.
So, what is blind hockey?
Blind hockey is played with a larger puck that emits noise and moves slower than the traditional hockey puck. Goals are also a foot shorter to aid goalies who typically have the least vision.
Blind hockey also uses adapted rules, such as the one-pass rule to help the defense have more time to identify the puck's location. The one-pass rule requires forwards to make one pass after crossing center ice into the opponent's territory.
You can also learn more about blind hockey on the Ice Owls' website, by clicking here.