Liam Hickey has already played for Canada’s national sledge hockey team at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge and the 2017 world championship. His next focus is making the final Canadian roster for 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.
©File photo/TC Media
Liam Hickey is heading back to South Korea.
The 19-year-old from St. John’s was one of was among 20 players named Monday to the Canada’s 2017-18 national sledge hockey team. The roster was chosen from 30 players invited to a selection camp in Calgary last week and will essentially be the team that will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in March. However, since Paralympic rosters are limited to 17 players, including two goaltenders, there will still be some internal competition to move up Canada's depth chart.
Still, all 20 are guaranteed a trip to Korea as the team will head there in November for one of the international events designed as tune-ups for the Paralympics and to help make the final player selections. The team will spend between 40 and 50 days together in camps or competitions prior to the Paralympic Games. That includes the Dec. 3-9 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown and a pre-Paralympic series in February against the United States.
Hickey is among 17 players on this season’s roster who helped Canada beat the U.S. 4-1 and win gold in April's 2017 world championship, held as a Paralympic test event at the Gangneung Hockey Center in Pyeongchang.
He also played for Canada at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, where Canada lost to the Americans in the final.
Despite his ever-growing résumé in the sport, Hickey is still the third-youngest player on Canada’s roster. And if he gets to Pyeongchang in March, it will be his second Paralympics since he also represented Canada in wheelchair basketball at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
It’s all helped Hickey — who has also competed in two world junior wheelchair basketball championships, included one earlier this year — become an A-carded national athlete.
The sledge hockey team's Own The Podium funding for 2017-18 is $675,000, which is an increase of $145,000 over the 2013-14 season.
The money will be spent on camps, equipment and travel, including another trip to South Korea in November, said Hockey Canada senior manager of hockey operations Shawn Bullock.
“We've increased our regional camps, support to the players, we're looking at having advanced equipment this year with sticks, buckets and sleds for the guys,” Bullock explained.
“We want to make sure everyone has the right equipment and the best equipment going into Pyeongchang, so that's certainly going to be an upgrade this year.”
With files from The Telegram