“It wasn’t quite the same as being together at the National Tournament, but it was the next best thing!”
The 2021 Canadian Blind Hockey Virtual Town Hall took place this past Saturday, March 27, and was presented by AMI and brought to you by CNIB Foundation. The Town Hall attracted over 100 attendees of all ages from across the country, including at least one representative from each of the 14 Blind Hockey programs across Canada. The 2021 Town Hall was co-hosted by Canadian Blind Hockey staff Matt Morrow and Luca DeMontis and featured over 20 guest speakers from across the community.
As the entire Blind Hockey world knows, the last weekend of March is traditionally reserved for the annual Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament. Unfortunately, the event had to be postponed again this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead, the organization offered the 2021 Virtual Town Hall, and it was clear from the feedback of participants it was the next best thing as Blind Hockey players from coast-to-coast had the opportunity to connect for an afternoon of “Blind Hockey Night in Canada” themed programming.
Canadian Blind Hockey is grateful of the ongoing support of our presenting partner AMI, our national program partner CNIB Foundation, and partners the Daniel Family Foundation, Electra Health, and Manion as well as sponsors and donors coast-to-coast during these unprecedented times.
The Town Hall opened with a welcome address from AMI President and CEO David Errington, which included a note about all the great original content AMI has produced on Blind Hockey recently. If you haven’t had the chance to watch AMI’s “Level Playing Field” featuring Kelly Serbu, or “Our Community” featuring Dustin Butterfield and the Central Alberta Bullseye, visit the news section of the Canadian Blind Hockey website for links to this great Blind Hockey content.
Next up was the main event which was a feature interview between “The Voice of Blind Hockey” Parasport TV’s Nicco Cardarelli, and newly-minted Canadian Blind Hockey Ambassador Natalie Spooner. Spooner – who is a World Champion and Olympic Gold medalist with the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team – spoke on a wide-ranging variety of topics including her experiences as a high-performance athlete as well as the importance of role models in developing hockey for the next generation of girls and women. On that note, new Canadian Blind Hockey Girl’s and Women’s Coordinator Laura Mark was formally introduced to the community, and she made the major announcement that the first Girl’s and Women’s Virtual Blind Hockey Camp will be taking place on May 1 in partnership with USA Hockey.
As is a tradition at the Canadian National Blind Hockey Team banquet, each team was then given two minutes to update the community on their season. Canadian National Team Captain Kelly Serbu updated the community on all the virtual training the team has been doing during this development year including strength and conditioning, mental performance, team building, and nutrition seminars. Each of the clubs gave their updates on their season activities, some programs had not been able to get on the ice at all this year, while others including the new Moncton SeeCats were practicing regularly.
The biggest announcement of the day was from Mark DeMontis who joined the Town Hall to announce September’s #COURAGE21 campaign. DeMontis, who founded “Courage Canada” in 2008 which expanded to become “Canadian Blind Hockey” in 2016, famously launched the charity by inline skating from Toronto to Vancouver in 2009, and then Halifax to Toronto in 2011.
This September, in recognition of 10 years since the last inline skate campaign, DeMontis will lead the #COURAGE21 inline skate relay with teammates Kelly Serbu and Francois Beauregard which will cover 1000 km over 10 days from Windsor to Ottawa. In addition to the skate, there will be an online #COURAGE21 challenge that Canadian Blind Hockey will be inviting the entire community to take part in their own hometowns. More details will be announced in May.
2021 – 2022 Season Schedule
Duane Morgan, from Canadian Blind Hockey’s National Program partner the CNIB Foundation, gave the closing address. Morgan noted that CNIB Foundation has also pivoted over the past year and now offers a significant number of free virtual programs to clients across Canada. These programs include social groups as well as skills training, and all can be accessed through the CNIB Foundation website.
The final section of the Town Hall was the announcement of the 2021 – 2022 Canadian Blind Hockey season which the organization is hoping will include both a mixture of virtual and in-person events. Like the entire hockey world, Canadian Blind Hockey is hoping for a more or less normal 2021 – 2022 season.
The organization has many exciting projects on the horizon as return-to-play becomes closer to reality, and we would like to thank our entire community for supporting us during this time. The organization is forever grateful for the support of our presenting partner AMI, our national program partner CNIB Foundation, and partners the Daniel Family Foundation, Electra Health, and Manion as well as sponsors and donors coast-to-coast.
2021 – 2022 Canadian Blind Hockey Season Schedule
May 1, 2021: Girl’s and Women’s Virtual Blind Hockey Camp in partnership with USA Hockey
May 2021: Canadian National Blind Hockey Team Virtual Training Camp
June 2021: Children and Youth Virtual Blind Hockey Camp
August 2 – 5, 2021: Canadian Blind Hockey Summer Development Camp & National Team Selection Camp. Scotiabank Pond Arena. Toronto, ON.
August 6 – 8, 2021: 2021 Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament. Scotiabank Pond Arena. Toronto, ON.
September 2021: #COURAGE21 Inline Skate Campaign & Virtual Challenge
October 22 – 24, 2021: 2021 USA Hockey – Blind Hockey Challenge featuring the third USA vs Canada International Blind Ice Hockey Series. St Louis, MI.
November: 2021 Canadian Blind Hockey Western Regional Blind Hockey Tournament. Calgary, AB.
March 24 – 27, 2022: 2022 Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament. Mattamy Athletic Centre. Toronto, ON.
July 29 – August 3, 2022: 2022 Canadian Blind Hockey Summer Development Camp and National Team Selection Camp. St Mary’s University. Halifax, NS.