Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Former Olympic champ tries out sledge hockey

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SOME junior sledge hockey players got an unexpected thrill of a lifetime Saturday -- the world's best woman hockey player dropped by to play.

Hayley Wickenheiser, in town after leading the University of Calgary Dinos women's hockey team to a weekend sweep over the Manitoba Bisons, dropped by the MTS Iceplex, where sledge hockey players, ages five to 14, have games every Saturday.

It had all been arranged quietly a few days ago, said Bill Muloin, the supervision of child recreation and leisure for the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities.

"She jumped in a sled and met all the kids," Muloin said. "We presented her with a sledge hockey jacket."

Sledge hockey is a version of ice hockey designed for people with physical disabilities.

"True North made an adaptable ice hockey rink," Muloin explained.

"The little guys play every Saturday," while older competitive sledge hockey teams play Sundays.

"They come from all over the province," Muloin said.

Wickenheiser had asked that her visit be low key; she didn't want any kids to lose ice time if media attended, Muloin said.

The 34-year-old Wickenheiser has led Canada to three Olympic gold medals.

nick.martin@freepress.mb,ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2012 A4

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