It is a lot of fun to discuss the National Hockey League as that is typically what you hear about when you are discussing hockey stories, but today we are not talking about professional athletes. Sometimes, the recreational leagues have some of the best stories: including the one we are about to discuss with a blind ice hockey goalie.
It is entirely possible that at least one of the players involved in this story will be able to get drafted and be a part of the National Hockey League. This would mean the possibility of increasing their fame by being part of the NHL odds and giving their fans ways to win money.
One of the worst things that can happen to a recreational team of any kind is when someone is not able to play last minute, as that can cause a huge issue for the team. However, what happened inside of an Edmonton ice rink became historic as Nelson Rego filled the missing spot. What makes this different from anything else, you may ask, well, Nelson Rego is 100 percent blind.
This was the first ever blind player that played on a sighted team in the province’s history, and that made it a lot of fun to hear about.
How He Got Chosen for the Team
Rego plays for a blind ice hockey team called the Edmonton “SeeHawks’ and throughout playing, he met another goaltender in John Hunter. Rego messaged Hunter about modifying his gear in order to play, and Hunter suffered an injury. Hunter reached out on the Edmonton Goalies Facebook page and wrote, “This is low-level stuff, so beginners to pro welcome!!! DM me if you’re interested, and we’ll get you set up.”
Hunter talked with the Edmonton news about this story and said, “Nelson calls me, and he kind of starts out with, ‘Hey, how’s the chest protector going? By the way, I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not, but I saw your post for a goalie sub for your league game tonight. What do you think about me playing?’”
The team knew his vision was impaired but did not care and told him to play.
How Was the Game?
The game was exciting as they did not let the referee know about Rego’s blindness until after the puck dropped. Rego explained how he gets ready in between the pipes and how he plays the game without having eyesight. He said that he keeps himself in the center of the goal by using his stick and glove to measure the distance. His wife Emelinda also plays her part in helping him, as when he is being challenged; she will give him instructions on how to move in order to block the incoming puck.
The game was definitely full of offense as Rego’s team was defeated by a final score of 9-8, but that was not an important detail of this story as he talked about how he was extremely excited to play as well.
“They made no accommodations for me, it was just like being one of the guys on the team, and that whole comradery thing that you get with a team that’s the thing that I really love the most.”
It does not matter whether Rego’s team was able to win or lose this game, but the fact that he is an inspiration to everyone by not letting anything stand in his way of being able to play the game he loves. Eyesight is important in being a goaltender, but Rego just proved that it is not a dealbreaker. Good on him and good on his teammates for just letting him be one of the players on the ice instead of an outcast.
What other incredible story about players overcoming obstacles to play at a great level, whether on the professional level or even in the recreational circuit?