Kiefer Jones, a former Fairmont resident who lives in Calgary, played in the 2018 Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament in Toronto March 30th to April 1st.
Players from across the country were divided according to their level of sight and skill and placed into teams, Mr. Jones said. Those who are fully blind played as goalies, while those who have limited vision filled the rest of the positions.
“The people are still pretty fast,” Mr. Jones said, adding that friends and family members watching the games “almost forget that people are visually impaired.”
Mr. Jones, who is legally blind, played in a league for sighted players a few years ago.
“I could keep up with them skating but it was hard to track the puck,” he said. “I can’t see it if someone else has it.”
Blind hockey solves that challenge by using a puck that is four times larger than a typical puck and that rattles as it moves across the ice. Mr. Jones said the pucks used for blind hockey are hollow steel shells filled with ball bearings so the players can hear them move.
The teams at the national tournament were so evenly matched, Mr. Jones said, that two of his games ended in overtime. He scored in the first game and had a couple of goals and a couple of assists throughout the tournament. His team placed third of the four teams competing in his division.
Mr. Jones also plays blind golf on the national and international level.
“It’s great. Between the hockey and blind golf it’s cool to be able to compete,” he said.
Mr. Jones wants others to know that blind sports offer those with visual impairments opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have and “makes it so we can all be competitive,” he said. No matter how little sight others have, “they can still be talented and good at their sport,” he said.