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Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey

 

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Click here to see the calendar of events. You can filter the events by clicking on the titles on the bottom (Paralympic Sport Club, Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey, etc.), including location and times.

 

 



 

2018-19 Team Training Schedule

The following skates are open to the team only. If you are interested but not certain you want to skate as part of the team contact us to set up a one-on-one demo with you.  All team members need to arrive at the MTA Event Center and be fully dressed, ready to go onto the ice NO LATER than 20 minutes before scheduled ice time. All times listed below are ice times.

PART 1 - TEAM TRAINING

 
 Thursday October 11, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center
 Thursday October 18, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday October 25, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday November 1, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday November 8 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center
 Thursday November 15, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday November 29, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday December 6, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday December 13, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday December 20, 2018   9:30 - 11:00 pm  MTA Event Center 

 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PART 2 - SCRIMMAGE
 
 Thursday January 10, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday January 17, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday January 24, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday January 31, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center
 Thursday February 7, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday February 14, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday February 21, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center
 Thursday February 28, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday March 7, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday March 14, 2019  9:15 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 
 Thursday March 21, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center
 Thursday March 28, 2019  9:30 - 10:45 pm  MTA Event Center 

 


 

 


 

 

 

2018 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival - Written by Emily Anderson, Therapeutic Recreation Intern

The Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey team heads to Chicago, IL for the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival 2018 on April 11th. In 2016, the team brought home the national championship in the American C class and then followed with a fourth place finish in the American B class in 2017. Heading to Chicago this year, the team has its eye on another national championship title.
The team consists of 11 players for the weekly practices held at the MTA sports complex in Palmer. Practices consist of drills and scrimmages against one another. During these scrimmages, areas for improvement are identified and worked on. As the sole sled hockey team in Alaska, this tournament provides the opportunity to try the team’s skills against other teams from across the country.
Heading to tournament this year are 10 of the weekly players as well as 1 returning player from a previous season. This will be the 4th tournament for Gerry and Jesse Milbrett, 3rd for Israel Hale, Jim Montgomery, Valerie Erdman, and Nathan Carey, 2nd for Will Barrington, and the debut tournament experience for Michael Hansen, Bryan Larson, Ian Kingsley, and Daniel Lee.

As the team has evolved over the years, there are different strengths that are drawn upon during preparation for tournament. Bryan Larson, a recent addition to the team, brings a plethora of hockey knowledge gathered from his extensive hockey experience. Gerry Milbrett has been playing sled hockey for years and contributes knowledge of previous tournaments. Israel Hale brings the speed for the other players to condition to, while Will Barrington shows the team how to be in the right place using different shooting techniques to score. Valerie Erdman has an amazingly accurate shot, and Michael Hansen has provided a security for the goalie by flushing out the defensive line. Nathan Carey supports the team by guarding the goal, deflecting all of the shots put at him. Jim Montgomery is a steady, consistent presence on the defense. Jesse Milbrett has brought back a new energy this season, returning to the team from Seattle for this tournament. A passionate learner and the youngest team member, Ian Kingsley has worked on improving his skills with every practice in preparation for his debut tournament. Daniel Lee filled in as an additional goalie much of the season allowing for full scrimmages but now will skate out at tournament.

Despite not joining the team at the 2018 tournament, Mike Farrell has supported the team throughout the season providing hockey knowledge and a worthy opponent to develop the team’s skills. Mark Brochu, also a recent addition to the team, has willingly practiced skills and developed an outlet for passing and moving the puck down the ice. The 2018 winter Challenge Alaska interns, Mary Margaret Bracken and Emily Anderson, also helped fill out an opposing team for the tournament team to practice weekly against. The team’s coaches, Jeff Dick and Brandon Harker, will accompany the team to Chicago. Over the course of the season, they have provided practice plans, pushed the team through challenging drills, and encouraged team cohesion.

With the combination of the team’s tournament wisdom and fresh enthusiasm for the sport, hopes are high for a strong tournament performance. With one of the strongest goal tenders in the sport, brick-wall defensemen, and explosive breakout speed the table is set for a national title. Go Alaska Avalanche Sled Team!

 


 

Summer Open Sled Skating in Anchorage

The Subway Ice Centre has opened its doors to us and will host open sled skating throughout summer 2018. Challenge Alaska staff will be on hand most of the scheduled dates to assist anyone who needs it (please confirm in advance) as well as make equipment available, subject to availability and advanced notice.  There is a $10 drop in fee for all skaters. This is the perfect time to try sled skating out and maybe jump into a spontaneous small area sled hockey game on one end of the ice. For those who want to skate without pucks one end of the ice will be set aside specifically for you. Reserve equipment in advance by calling (907) 344-7270 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Monday June 4, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Tuesday June 12, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Tuesday June 19, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday June 25, 2018

5:30 - 6:30 pm

Subway Ice Centre
Monday July 2, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday July 9, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday July 16, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday July 30, 2018 5:45 - 6:45 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday August 6, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday August 13, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday August 20, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre
Monday August 27, 2018 5:30 - 6:30 pm Subway Ice Centre

 

 

 


 

 

 SPONSOR THE TEAM

We invite you to become a sponsor of the Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey team. As a program of Challenge Alaska, your sponsorship may be tax-deductible. When you become a team sponsor you further them many benefits of participation in sports by people with disabilities. Perhaps the largest benefit is giving people with disabilities the chance to belong to a team...which may be something that they've never had or thought they'd lost forever.

Click here to learn about sponsorship levels or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (907) 344-7270.

2018 TEAM USA WINS 3rd CONSECUTIVE PARALYMPIC GOLD MEDAL

 


 

 


Reposted with permission of the Ma-Su Valley Frontiersman. Originally published on 04/21/16.

Local Sled Hockey Team Wins National Title

WASILLA — It’s been about two years since the Alaska Avalanche sled hockey team skated in an official game in their home state. Since hosting a team from Buffalo, New York, in 2014, it’s been weekly practices and intrasquad scrimmages for Alaska’s lone official team in a sport that allows athletes with disabilities the opportunity to compete in an adapted version of hockey.

But earlier this month, the Valley-based team got their chance to compete in the 12th annual USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival in Fraser, Michigan.

The Avalanche took advantage of their opportunity. The team finished undefeated in the American C class, and won a 2016 national title.

The championship victory capped a whirlwind four-day festival for the Avalanche, and followed years of uncertainty whether the team would have the chance to travel to a national event.

“It’s been a season by season kind of thing. We always wanted to go to the tournament,” said Jeff Dick, the team’s coach and a therapeutic recreation coordinator at Challenge Alaska.

It has all come down to having the funds to send the 11-player team to a tournament. The team, originally formed in 2003, has called the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla home since 2007, when the sled hockey team took the name of the Valley’s former Junior A hockey organization, which was a big proponent of the adapted game.

Since then, the team has maintained a steady core of veterans in a sport that takes many concepts of the standard game of ice hockey, but incorporates different equipment to give disabled athletes equal opportunity to play hockey. The Avs play and practice on sleds, normally made of aluminum or steel and sized according to a player’s height, which features a bucket seat and safety straps. Underneath the sleds are two blades mounted parallel, and a runner up front. Players use two shortened hockey sticks with a metal pick on one end and a blade of the stick on the other. The sticks are used to both shoot and pass the puck, and to help the players move across the ice.

Just like standard hockey, players wear helmets and a full set of protective pads.

During their season, the Avs practice once a week at the Menard.

As the only sled hockey team in Alaska, week in, week out, the Avs faced only their familiar faces on the ice. But while that may prove frustrating for some, Dick said the team saw the positive and used that to its advantage.

“We figured out a way to make it work,” Dick said.

And that helped the Avs during the tournament.

“When we got to the point where it wasn’t us against us, the team came together as a unit,” Dick said. “We were able to use all the knowledge we had, and really supported each other.”

Dick called the victory, “a total team effort,” by a squad that features 10 men and one woman. Most of the players live in the Valley.

The 2015-16 team includes: captain Gerry Milbrett, a wing from Palmer; assistant captain Gregory Peck, a defenseman from Wasilla; center Jesse Milbrett (Wasilla); wing Valerie Erdman (Wasilla); defenseman Jim Montgomery (Wasilla); center Israel Hale (Palmer); wing Will Barrington (Anchorage); wing James Newton (Anchorage); defenseman Chris Milbrett (Palmer); defenseman Blake Bowkers (Wasilla); and goalie Nathan Carey (Anchorage).

Israel Hale has been playing with the team for two seasons. The 29-year-old said that heading into the tournament, the team didn’t know exactly what to expect.

“We didn’t expect to bring home a championship,” Hale said “We knew we had a good team.”

The Avs proved they’re really good. Alaska finished 5-0 overall and beat the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association squad 2-0 in the American C final. Hale scored both goals in the final, and goalie Nathan Carey recorded his fourth shutout of the tournament in the win. Carey allowed only one goal in five games.

“It was really amazing,” Hale said. “All the hard work paid off.”

Hale said the experience was meaningful on a variety of levels.

“It means a whole lot. It also means we might be able to get sponsors easier the next time we want to do this again,” Hale said.

Dick said the team already has its sights set on the 2017 USA Hockey disabled festival, hosted in San Jose, California. The West Coast location should help reduce the overall costs, Dick said.

“Our goal is to get back to the tournament next year,” Dick said.

Dick said contributions by Labatt Blue Alaska, K&L Distributors, North American Breweries, USA Hockey Pacific District and Challenge Alaska helped make the team’s trip to Michigan possible. Dick said the Alaska State Hockey Association also stepped up to provide a large chunk of funding, and played a big role in the team’s opportunity to compete.

Dick described the experience as surreal. The team didn’t have much time to celebrate at the Fraser Hockeyland Ice Arena. The Avs rushed from the rink to the airport soon after the game to catch their flight back to Alaska.

But once they were settled, they had a chance to really think about what had just happened, Dick said.

“The whole plane ride home from Detroit, we sat down and it really sank in,” Dick said. “The smiles got bigger and bigger all the way back to Alaska.”

 

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

Sign up for Fred Meyer Community Rewards and Earn Money for Sled Hockey

The Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey Team is now enrolled in Fred Meyer's Community Rewards Program. You can link your Rewards Card to us by visiting www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards We are non-profit number 90191. This will NOT change how you receive rewards on your card - it an additional amount that supports sled hockey in Alaska.

By following this link, you can download a one-page PDF document explaining the program in further detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Mat-Su Health Foundation for Supporting Inclusive Skating

The Mat-Su Health Foundation awarded Challenge Alaska a $10,000 grant to purchase sleds to be kept at Mat-Su skating rinks for use by persons with disabilities who

would like to access the ice. We are in the process of setting up dates at each of the four rinks in the Valley for the public to come out and try the sleds and learn about sled skating. These sleds represent significantly increased access to skating for persons with mobility impairments in the Mat-Su Valley. Thank you Mat-Su Health Foundation!

These sleds have been placed at all four Valley ice rinks and available for use by the public.

 


 

About the Sport

The team is made up of men and women (teens through adults) of all levels of experience. We train on the basics of sled skating, puck handling, shooting, and scrimmaging weekly (during the season).

According to U.S. Paralympics, “Ice Sledge Hockey is the Paralympic version of Ice Hockey. Since its debut on the Paralympic Program at the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Paralympics, it has quickly become one of the largest attractions for spectators at the Winter Paralympics." Ice Sledge Hockey is practiced by athletes worldwide and is governed by the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) with co-ordination by the IPC Ice Hockey Technical Committee. It follows the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with modifications. Instead of skates, players use two-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.

 

 

The Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey Team is the only sled hockey team in the state of Alaska. Teams are abundant in Canada and the lower 48 and are often the beneficiaries of local foundations and/or professional teams. Currently our team has no such support and relies on the donations of local businesses and individuals from the Mat-Su Valley. We continue to seek sponsors to support our team and assist with the high cost of traveling to the nearest competition (the 2017 Disabled Hockey Festival is in San Jose, CA). Please contact Jeff Dick at (907) 344-7270 if you are interested in becoming a sponsor of this amazing sport.