San Antonio's sled hockey stars take to the ice
By VINCENT T. DAVIS | San Antonio Express-News | Published: February 2, 2015
SAN ANTONIO (Tribune News Service) — It’s a rough and tumble sport, but San Antonio wounded warriors have shown they’ve got what it takes to win national honors in sled hockey.
“They went from being injured and wounded soldiers to national champions in five years,” said Tom Roznowski, manager of the San Antonio Rampage Sled Hockey team.
This weekend, area residents will have the opportunity to watch the team in action as it competes against three other teams from the Midwest Sled Hockey League at the Ice & Golf Center at Northwoods, 17530 Henderson Pass.
The tournament takes place Friday-Sunday. The Rampage sled team’s first game is at 3:30 p.m. Friday against the Disabled Athlete Sports Association St. Louis Blues. The other teams in the tournament are the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche.
While several games will be played Friday and Saturday morning, a formal opening ceremony is scheduled for 4:45 p.m Saturday. Admission to the ceremony is free and Roznowski encourages the public to come out and support the local team.
The Rampage sled team, which includes injured, ill and wounded service members, veterans and civilians, won the 2014 National Disabled Hockey Festival with a 3-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues.
Sled hockey uses specially built sleds rather than skates. In the 1960s, Swede athletes with disabilities created the sport in Stockholm to keep playing on the ice.
The local sled team’s origin dates back to 2005 when Janis Roznowski, Tom’s wife and founder of Operation Comfort, took 10 wounded soldiers and Marines to Sun Valley, Idaho, to introduce them to downhill skiing and sled hockey. When asked which sport they liked best, the veterans said hockey because of the rough and tumble action.
Operation Comfort helped the team get its start and in 2007, the San Antonio Rampage agreed to sponsor the team and paralympian Lonnie Hannah signed on as player/coach of the team.
Three of the San Antonio players, Rico Roman, Josh Sweeney and Jen Lee, played with the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia. Sweeney scored the goal in USA’S 1-0 win over Russia’s team.
Rampage director of business operations Ryan Snider said the sled hockey team has become an important part of the Rampage identity. The team sponsors military appreciation nights and auctions off team jerseys with proceeds going to the sled hockey program.
“It’s great to see what they’ve accomplished from starting out to winning a national championship,” Snider said. “It’s very important for us to continue to support them financially and any way that we can.”
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