There was an NHL-style paparazzi moment at Kanata Rec Centre this morning, as the jubilant Capital City Condors gathered for a team photo. Cameras and camera phones were snapping pic after pic as the hockey players in the red sweaters proudly showed off their medals after a great game versus the Durham Dragons.
As the host team, the Condors have welcomed the world to the Special Hockey International (SHI) Tournament. On ice in Ottawa since Wednesday, March 18, it has included a whopping 1200 exceptional hockey players, plus a whole lot of fans and “ripe” hockey gear. Players are on 73 special hockey teams from three different countries: Canada, the United States and England.
And from all accounts, they’ve had a blast on the rink and off. The smile on Daniel Sexton’s face says it all. This handsome young Nepean resident has played hockey for years. He loves his Condors team and he has scored a couple of goals in this tourney. “It’s going really well,” Daniel says of the four-day hockey fest. The highlights for #25 Sexton? “Having good fun with the team and playing good hockey too.”
The SHI tourney is the largest in the world for people with special needs and this is the first time Ottawa has played host to event. Opening Ceremonies were held at the Canadian Tire Centre March 18 and since then games have been underway at the Bell Sensplex (Kanata) and the Kanata Recreation Centre. Tonight there’s a closing banquet at Algonquin College.
Jim Perkins is president of Special Hockey International and the Capital City Condors and he says, “Seeing these young people on the ice shows us all that hockey is more than just a game, but a way to build self-esteem and promote inclusiveness.”
Launched in 1996, Special Hockey International started with just two players on the ice. Today SHI has teams throughout North America and Europe, giving thousands of athletes the chance to lace up and play hockey. See www.specialhockeyinternational.org for details. The Capital City Condors are a family of hockey teams for those who are unable to play in other leagues because of a developmental disability. The players are aged six and up and there are Condors teams in Kanata, Gloucester and Cambridge. See www.capitalcitycondors.org for details.