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Alaskans With Disabilities Taking Hockey to Another Level

Published On: Apr 30 2014 08:25:00 AM AKDT   Updated On: Apr 30 2014 08:25:00 AM AKDT

This hockey team is a little different then the normal.  They are inspiring others to not let their disabilities stop them from doing something they love.


Hockey is nothing out of the ordinary for those living in Alaska, but one group of Alaskans with physical disabilities is taking the sport to another level.

Through Challenge Alaska, the Alaska Avalanche sled hockey team is demonstrating play that's intense and inspiring.

If you looked up the word “tough” in the dictionary, you just might find Gerry Milbrett's picture next to it.

"We're athletes,” Milbrett said. “I think we are more athletes than stand-up hockey players."

He's a veteran sled hockey player who doesn't let being a paraplegic hold him back. He was injured 22 years ago when a 1,000-gallon tank fell on his legs from 15 feet up. The injury occurred the same day his son was being born. The injury, Milbrett said, hasn’t stopped him from getting out and proving he can stay athletic.

It's a motivation that has both of Mibrett's sons Jesse and Chris out on the sled skates with him. They are able bodies who are just trying to keep up with their old man.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Chris said.

But that's a lot to ask from a guy who does not give up.

"You still wake up in the morning and you got to go on, it’s just a different way of thinking," Gerry said.

Sled hockey is not your casual sport, because just like the stand-up version, these players despite their disabilities are still dishing out hard shots and hard hits.

Gerry cherishes playing with his Alaska Avalanche team who on this day went up against the Buffalo Sabers Sled Vets.

"Sled hockey is being alive its one of those things that you can get hooked on really easy," Milbrett said.

Score or no score, when it comes to living their lives to the fullest, Milbrett and his teammates have already won.

"I've opened eyes to a lot of people that you can do things, just do them,” Milbrett said.

The Alaska Avalanche also includes several military disabled veterans. The team is in the middle of a four-game series against the Buffalo Sabers Sled Vets. 

So far the home team has won by scores of 3 to 1, 7 to 1, and 2 to 1.