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Tough sledding ahead for Golden Griffins

It will be an usual type of double-header for the Canisius hockey team Sunday.

First, the Golden Griffins will take on Merrimack in a nonconference contest at 5 p.m. in the Buffalo State Ice Arena.

Then, the players will change up their gear slightly in order to play a scrimmage against the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team.

Sled Hockey uses the rules of standard ice hockey, but instead of skating, the players sit on a specially designed sled and use two short ice picks to propel themselves across the ice. It's played mainly by people with lower extremity disabilities.

"Through our ongoing relationship with Hasek's Heroes we've gotten to know Norm Page, who runs the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey team," Canisius coach Dave Smith said. "Last year during a game we played at Army, they played a sled hockey game following the match against us and I thought it would be a great idea for us to. I thought it would be a good experience for our players.

"Our guys do so many community service things at Riverside Arena and with Hasek's Heroes that they've seen sled hockey and are excited and curious. I don't think they know how hard it's going to be, though. It's going to be a treat to see our guys try to compete with people who do this every day."

The teams will play for 30 or 40 minutes with probably about 15 of the Canisius players able to get fitted in a sled to play a shift.

The Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team includes approximately 50 players on four different teams which play in the Ontario Sled Hockey League. The organization will host the National Disabled Hockey Festival in March this season.

The Buffalo program is one of the most successful in the country placing five area players on the 15-member national sled hockey team which competed in the last Paralympics.

In the opener, the Griffs (1-2-1) will look for their first win against a Hockey East program.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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