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Sask. blind hockey player comes home with silver medal

Mike Simmonds plays in Courage Canada National Blind Hockey Tournament
Reported by Chris Mangatal
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A Saskatoon man is back from Toronto with a silver medal, after the first ever Courage Canada National Blind Hockey Tournament.

It featured four teams -- Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa -- along with 43 players from across Canada and one player from the United States.

"It was quite an affair, a lot of fun. It was competitive on the ice and friendly off the ice," said Mike Simmonds, defenceman for Vancouver.

Even though it's a friendly game, Simmonds got hit pretty hard on his very first shift.

"I have a little bit of a pulled muscle up in the ribs and back area, but that's hockey," he said.

Vancouver lost 4-2 to Toronto in the final, but Simmonds is just happy to have been able to bring awareness to the sport.

"Our ultimate goal is to have it into the 2022 Paralympics as a demonstration sport," he said.

But to do that more people need to join and that means getting youth interested.

"If enough people contact Courage Canada, we can set up a workout here once a month where they'll come out and help grow the sport from a grassroots level," said Simmonds.

"If we get five people, that's enough to bring them out."

They are getting closer to that goal. Two more people have contacted Courage Canada recently which puts Saskatchewan up to three players.

Simmonds would like to see a lot of people from all over the country join up, so they could form an entire national league.

"Who knows, we might have a little BHL on our hands," he said.

cmangatal@rawlco.com

Follow on Twitter: @ChrisMangatal