National Champs in Your Own Backyard: Bennett Blazers
January 26, 2017
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The Washington Capitals aren’t the only hockey team in town. You can catch the local sled hockey team, the Bennet Blazers, on the weekends at Ice World in Abingdon, Maryland. What, you don’t know about the world famous Blazers? It’s time someone filled you in.
The Blazers are a dominant force in the Delaware Valley Hockey League. They have won three National championships in four years, only losing five games. Teams in the DVHL play a 14-game season, as well as three additional games for the DVHL tournament and another 4 games for the national tournament. For the past several years, this has culminates in a national championship for the Blazers.
Sled hockey is a modified version of hockey for the disabled, where the players sit down on sleds and are given two sticks to both propel themselves as well as to shoot the puck. Unlike normal hockey, you are not allowed to extend your arms and hit somebody, or else the player will spend two minutes in the penalty box, giving the opposing team a power play. Since hockey is a contact sport, pushing and shoving is still fully appreciated, as long as it is still a legal hit.
Luckily, one of the Comet’s own staff members, sophomore Patrick Brennan, is a player on the Blazers. He is the starting center, which means he is the leader of both the offense and defense; he could also be called the point guard of the offense. In order to get on the team, participants need to have a disability, and Patrick is no different. As a young child, Patrick was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer. Due to a life-saving surgery, Patrick has a limb differential between his right and left leg. Patrick has loved sports ever since he was a young child, and with hockey being his favorite sport, he made sure that his disability didn’t stop him from playing the sport he loves. Although he can only play until the age of 18, he is loving every second of playing for the most dominant team in the DVHL.
However, there are no shortage of sad stories on his team, with there being multiple paraplegics and cancer survivors like him on almost every position on the team. For example, there are also players with cerebral palsy and spina bifida, and a few who have surived car accidents. All of their stories are incredibly tragic, and there is nothing better than supporting them playing the sport they love. Go Blazers!