BURNT HILLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — “Hockey truly is for everyone.” That’s the message Holly Shear wants to put out to the world. Her son, Max, has been named to the U.S. Blind Hockey Team.
The team will play a series of games against the Canadian National Blind Hockey Team on October 21-23 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A second series of games will be held in Toronto, Ontario in March 2023.
The team is coed, with players hailing from across the country—from Washington State to Maine. All players are legally blind and the game is played with a few modifications, with the biggest adaptation being the large steel puck with ball bearings that rattle as the puck glides across the ice.
The sport of blind ice hockey has been played in the U.S. since 2014. Besides the modified puck, the sport also uses a shorter 3-foot net, and shots on goal are not allowed until a pass is made in the offensive zone.
Max Shear was a young hockey player with the Schenectady Youth Hockey Association when a brain tumor and brain surgeries damaged his optic nerves at age 10. After losing his vision, he thought he would never play hockey again.
After a year of recovery, Max began skating again with a local recreation program. He was introduced to blind hockey in 2018 through the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI).
In 2019, Max played in his first blind hockey game in Ottawa, Canada. Since then, he has played in several blind hockey tournaments and was invited in June 2022 to the blind hockey training and development camp in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Afterward, he was among 25 invited to try out for the national team in Buffalo.
On Sept. 1, 2022, Max learned that he made the team. Max overcame many challenges on his journey to the U.S. Blind Hockey Team, and he is excited to help grow the game, Holly Shear said. “No matter your disability,” she stressed, “you can go out and achieve your dreams if you work hard enough.”
Several other countries are trying to put teams together to recognize blind hockey as an official Paralympic sport. To get involved or purchase your own blind hockey pucks, visit the USA Hockey website.