MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Not only is Minnesota the state of hockey, it’s the state of nearly every kind of hockey. We have ice hockey, boot hockey, floor hockey, even unicycle hockey.
And Minnesota also has the best power hockey team in the country, going 10 years strong.
“The big thing is, people hear about a sport with people in wheelchairs they think it’s all just for fun, it’s not competitive. But people really really get into it, and it gets pretty heated out there,” Chad Wilson said.
Power hockey — floor hockey in power wheelchairs — might be for folks with disabilities, but it is not for the faint of heart.
“It can be dangerous. You’ll have the occasional crash,” Jacob Ritter said.
Ritter and his twin brother Nathan are on the Minnesota Saints, an all-star team from the Minnesota Power Hockey League.
Every two years, the league puts a team together to compete in the North American Power Hockey Cup, the best of the best from the U.S. and Canada. And time and time again, the best of the best has been the Saints.
Next week, they’re going for their fifth straight title.
“You gotta go out and play as well as you can, because anybody can beat anybody in these types of tournaments,” Jacob Ritter said.
As much as they enjoy beating everybody, they’ll tell you it’s not what they enjoy most. Even more than the competition, it’s the camaraderie — with your teammates, even with your opponents.
“For people with disabilities, having a sport we can play I think is huge because you can feel like anybody else. I mean you can just have those few moments where you’re out there on the floor just having fun, not worrying about other things, not worrying about your problems,” Wilson said.
“It means a lot to me. It’s the only sport that I can compete in,” Jacob Ritter said. “I have enjoyed sports my entire life. Sports mean everything to me, and this is a chance for me to go out and compete and just be like everyone else.”
Even if it comes with the occasional crash.
The tournament is held in Plymouth, Michigan this year. It starts on Tuesday with the championship game held on Friday.