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World Sledge Hockey Challenge launches Sunday in Charlottetown

Team Canada got on the ice at MacLauchlan Arena for the first time Thursday in preparation for the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
Team Canada is pictured during a practice at MacLauchlan Arena in preparation for the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.

The rough and tumble World Sledge Hockey Challenge skates again this week in Charlottetown beginning Sunday with two games at Bell Aliant Centre.

Action fires up in the preliminary round when the United States plays Korea at noon and Italy faces Canada at 5 p.m.

It’s the fourth time overall and second straight year Charlottetown has hosted the challenge and the fourth time Tracy Stevenson has been there. This time, though, she’s a tournament co-chair (with Dean Lund) and not just on the committee.

So Stevenson, also the executive director of ParaSport P.E.I., knows what people who haven’t seen the sport can expect.

“They’ll see some of the best athletes and the best paralympic athletes in the world. (They’ll see) a sport played at a high level. It’s not often we get to host an event of this caliber,” said Stevenson. “I’m very, very thankful. We have a great team of volunteers.

The four-team event this year drew defending champ the United States, Canada (last year’s silver medalist), Korea and Italy to cozy MacLauchlan Arena.

More prelim games go Monday and Wednesday at noon and 7 p.m. each day. Semifinals are Thursday at noon and 7 p.m.

Saturday the bronze medal game goes at 1 p.m., followed by the gold medal game at 5 p.m.

More than just a showcase for paralympic athletes, the challenge has a trickle down effect for Stevenson’s organization which works to help the Island’s disabled athletes get off the sidelines.

In the 2008 and 2009 events, Stevenson said free tickets were offered to schools to come see the games and there were a few bites.

Now her e-mails number over 200 for requests from schools. That means more and more disabled and able-bodied kids are curious about the game.

And which only helps her job go smoother at ParaSport P.E.I.

“There’s no greater way to increase awareness of our sport. Youth are interested in what’s available in P.E.I. and what available for people with disabilities on P.E.I.,” she said.

Friday, members of Team Canada were at community events at Mount Stewart, Donagh, Spring Park and Stonepark schools, and were at the tree-lighting ceremony in Charlottetown.

Tournament passes are $50, good for all games. Individual game tickets are $10 for the preliminary round and semifinals and $15 for the medal round games. Tickets and passes go on sale Sunday at the Bell Aliant Centre box office. Both are also available at www.hockeycanada.ca.

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A look at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.

What Is It? - A four-team sledge hockey tournament.

Who’s Here? - Canada, United States, Italy and Korea.

When? Dec. 3-9.

Where? - MacLauchlan Arena.

Tournament co-chairpeople - Tracy Stevenson and Dean Lund.

Tickets - Full tournament ticket packages, $50; Individual game tickets for preliminary round and semifinals, $10; medal round game,  $15. More at www.hockeycanada.ca.

When They Play

Sunday

Noon - United States vs. Korea

5 p.m. - Italy vs. Canada

Monday

Noon - Italy vs. United States

7 p.m. - Canada vs. Korea

Wednesday

Noon - Korea vs. Italy.

7 p.m.  - United States vs. Canada

Thursday

Noon- Semifinal

7 p.m. – Semifinal*

Saturday, Dec. 9

1 p.m. - Bronze medal game

5 p.m. - Gold medal game

* Canada to play in 7 p.m. semifinal.

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