Ice Hockey

‘Iceability’ event enables students to play sled hockey

‘Iceability’ enables students to try sled hockey

Six teams competed in a tournament organized by the SU men’s hockey club for the inaugural Inclusive Cup.

Men's Club player Tim Cook skates his way to the goal between two defenders from the Women's team.
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Syracuse University men’s club hockey player Tim Cook skates his way to the goal between two defenders from the SU women’s ice hockey team.

In a display of sportsmanship and community spirit, the Syracuse University men’s hockey club team transformed Tennity Ice Skating Pavilions’ annual “Iceability” into a more significant event for this year’s Disability Pride Week.

Tennity was the stage for “The Inclusive Cup,” a sled hockey tournament designed to bridge the gap between able-bodied and disabled communities through sport.

The event attracted six unified teams, including players from the SU Division 1 women’s ice hockey and the men’s hockey club teams, offering them a rare chance to engage directly in adaptive sports.

The Men's Club team members, Connor Chesner and Tony Larkin, organized the tournament.
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Men’s club team members Connor Chesner and Tony Larkin (standing) organized the tournament.

“We as a team wanted to do more for the Syracuse community, and we believe that hockey is for everyone,” said Connor Chesner, the men’s hockey club’s vice president and a co-chair of this year’s event. “This was our best way of showing it.”

The tournament enabled SU students to engage in adaptive sports alongside disabled athletes from the non-profit CNY Adaptive Sports. Each team had one member from the CNY Flyers, a local amateur traveling sled hockey team.

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To keep things running smoothly during Sunday’s match, free pizza courtesy of the Disability Cultural Center was delivered to the players on the ice.

Sled hockey offers a twist on traditional hockey, leveling the playing field for athletes who navigate the ice on sleds with fast-paced play. Tennity Ice Skating Pavilion owns ten sleds for use by the university community.

Iceability participants didn’t need any prior experience for the 10-minute games with a round-robin format. The men’s hockey club partnered with the Disability Cultural Center to organize the showcase.

“Through immersive experience, students learn about the health and social benefits of playing adaptive sports as able-bodied teammates and they always highlight their positive experience,” Disability Cultural Center director Carrie Ingersoll-Wood said.

Tony Larkin, former vice president for the SU men’s club team and co-chair of this year’s event, credited players with making Sunday’s event special.

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SU men’s club hockey team member Jack Wren (left) keeps his eye on the puck to keep it away from CNY Flyers sled hockey team member Barret Amiss.

“As a first-year event you never really know how things may shake out, especially an event that needs a lot of precision,” Larkin said. “From our coaches to players, to our interns, we had all hands on deck, and it made things fun and go smoothly.”

Also, off-the-ice activities such as a cornhole were set up alongside the Tennity rink.

“I saw one of our defensemen, Jake Brown, offering the young boy in the wheelchair a few bean bags to throw,” Larkin said. “It’s just moments like that, knowing our guys can be such good leaders and role models, that makes it special for me.”

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Syracuse University women’s hockey player Kate Holmes prepares to put one in the pond hockey net.

Also, proceeds from the event donated through a GoFundMe will significantly support the CNY Flyers team to help secure ice time for the upcoming season.

Seth Gitner, an associate professor at the Newhouse School and men’s hockey club faculty advisor, was disabled from a 2017 accident.

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Isaac Arnold (left) tries to use his sled to block Tim Cook from scoring in the pond hockey net.

Since then, Gitner started playing with the CNY Flyers and hosts weekly inclusive hockey sessions at Tennity where he encourages the club players to participate.

“I try to get on the ice with them as much as possible, to meet them as student-athletes,” Gitner said.

SU’s club team faces off against the CNY Flyers each year for “Inclusive Hockey Night” as a fundraiser. This year, the Flyers topped the club team 17-0 with 72 shots on goal.

“It’s important for these guys to do something bigger than themselves and to run events such as this to show others that they are doing great things in the Syracuse University community in addition to hockey,” Gitner said.

SU Men's Hockey Club member Dylan Goldfarb (center) and his teammates celebrate a win.
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SU men’s hockey club member Dylan Goldfarb (center) and his teammates celebrate a win.