For people with disabilities, finding ways to participate in traditional sports can be a challenge. But sled hockey offers para-athletes the chance to get out on the ice. Our Candace Hopkins was there Saturday afternoon as the CNY Sled Hockey Flyers took on a special team from Buffalo.
SKANEATELES, N.Y. -- When the CNY Flyers and Buffalo Wounded Warriors took to the ice Saturday afternoon the game was less about competition and more about seizing a rare opportunity to get out on the ice.
"It's an amazing feel, your heart pounds, I'm actually going to get out there, there's people in the stands, music is gonna be playing, it's as authentic as it can get right now and it's amazing," said CNY Sled Hockey Flyers player Erik Ryan.
Ryan was born with spina bifida. He has always loved hockey, but before he joined the Flyers, there was no way for him to play the game.
"I grew up a little bit differently than everyone else, raised kinda the same. There's nothing wrong with you, you can get out and do anything you want. Some guys aren't raised like that and it takes a group organization and a lot of awareness to get out there," said Ryan.
The CNY Flyers are made up of players from ages nine to 40 and you don't have to be disabled to be on the team. They say it was important to make sure that anyone could get in on the action.
"It's a concept that we really focus on, in having our individuals that have limitations playing with their friends, families and other individuals that may be pretty dynamic at the sport already," said Move Along Inc. founder Gregory Callen.
Saturday's game was the Flyers’ first ever home game. They usually play on the road, but Skaneateles opened up their doors to the team. In turn they invited the Wounded Warriors down to their territory.
"They are a tough team, they had some good skaters out there, but we had a good time, win or lose," said Buffalo Wounded Warriors Sled Hockey player Dan Ohar.
The Flyers got the win, but the real victory is for all of these athletes who thought their time on the ice would never come.