The world’s best wheelchair hockey teams and players came to Minnesota last month for the first ever PowerHockey World Cup. The event took place Sunday, August 5th through Thursday, August 9th, 2001 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. It kicked off with the Opening Ceremonies emceed by Wally Shaver, with special guest Tod Leiweke, President of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and culminated with the Toronto Rock’s 4-2 victory over the Calgary Selects in the championship game. The Toronto Rock’s Michelle Duboulay was named Championship Game MVP, and the Minnesota Stars Chris Kram was named Tournament MVP (voted on by coaches of each team).
The PowerHockey World Cup was the largest power-wheelchair sporting event in U.S. history. It was also the first PowerHockey tournament to have participating teams from Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. Eleven teams competed for a chance to capture the PowerHockey Cup.
Teams included the Minnesota Stars (USA), St. Paul Saints (USA), Michigan Mustangs (USA), Power Roos (Australia), Calgary Selects (Canada), SW Ontario Canucks (Canada), Toronto Rock (Canada), Finnish National Team (Finland), Nording Bulls (Germany), Rocky’s Rolling Wheels (Germany), and Thunder Roma (Italy).
The state of Minnesota was well represented, having two teams the Minnesota Stars and the St. Paul Saints in the competition. The Stars, the first organized electric wheelchair (PowerHockey ) team in the United States, was established in 1993. The Saints are in their first year of existence, and are the second PowerHockey traveling team in Minnesota. Most of the Stars and Saints team members play on various teams in the U.S. Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association’s (U.S. EWHA) Minnesota Division.
The Stars finished round-robin play with a record of 3-1-1, and advanced to the semifinals by beating Thunder Roma 4-0, in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the Stars lost 2-1 to the eventual champion Toronto Rock. The Stars played Team Finland for third place, losing 2-1. After a 1-1 tie through overtime, the game went to a shootout. Finland put home its third shot to seal the victory.
The Saints finished round-robin play at 1-3. They opened the playoff round by losing 3-0 to Australia’s Power Roos.
The Saints rebounded to win their next game 3-2 against the SW Ontario Canucks. After a 2-2 overtime tie, the game went to a shootout. The Saints outscored the Canucks and advanced to the 9th-10th place game. The Saints beat the Michigan Mustangs 2-0 for 9th place.
The PowerHockey World Cup was hosted by the U.S. EWHA, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a quality hockey program for persons requiring the use of an electric (power) wheelchair during daily life. The U.S. EWHA was founded by members of Minnesota’s first organized PowerHockey team.
“The tournament proved to be a tremendous success,” said Craig McClellan, U.S. EWHA President. “It was our goal to create a venue that would surpass anything ourselves, or any of the visiting teams, had ever participated in. Not just from a game-playing standpoint, but also in providing excellent accommodations and organization. I think we more than accomplished this.”
PowerHockey is a sport specifically designed for power wheelchair users. This segment of the disabled community is very under-served when it comes to available athletic opportunities. The Special Olympics and Paralympic programs do not serve these athletes. The potential market for PowerHockey is the same as, if not greater than, those very successful national/international programs, quite possibly making it the world’s next big disabled sports movement.
For more information about the PowerHockey World Cup, or the U.S. EWHA and its programs, you may visit: www.powerhockey.com or call (763)-535-4736.