Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey makes sport more accessible

Minnesota Blind Hockey invites a range of players from legally blind to totally blind to take part in a modified version of the sport, resulting in a great opportunity to make hockey more accessible.

As the video above notes, nets are tweaked, pucks are bigger and make more noise, and other changes are made to make hockey accessible. Here are the full rules from Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey:

  • Typically, totally blind athletes play goal (or defense); lower sighted athletes play defense; and higher sighted athletes play forward.
  • The puck is bigger, slower and makes noise compared to a traditional puck so the players can locate it. 
  • Custom 3 foot high nets are used rather than the traditional 4 foot nets to keep the puck low and near the ice so it can make noise and be tracked aurally.
  • Teams must complete one pass in the attacking zone prior to being able to score. This provides both the low vision defense and the goalie an extra opportunity to track the puck.
  • An on ice official uses a different whistle to indicate that a pass has been completed and the attacking team is eligible to score.
  • Tag-up off-sides is used with the assistance of verbal communication from on ice officials. The game is played with standard IIHF safety protocols including no-touch icing, and crease violations to ensure utmost player safety.
  • All players must wear full protective gear including face mask.

Clever, cool stuff, right? Read more about its history – for decades in Canada, and really picking up in the U.S. back in 2014 – here.

NBC Sports is celebrating Hockey Day in America with an NHL Sunday tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.

Pre-game studio coverage begins at noon ET on NBC with NHL Live, which will be on-site in Hockeytown at The Rink at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, Mich. Liam McHugh and Kathryn Tappen will anchor pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage throughout the day alongside analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick. In addition, Tappen will provide reports and interviews from the Team USA vs. Canada women’s hockey game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

NBC Hockey Day in America schedule:
Penguins beat Rangers 6-5
St. Louis at Minnesota – NBC – 3:30 p.m. ET (Watch live)
Philadelphia at Detroit – NBCSN –  6 p.m. ET (Watch live)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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