About Special Hockey
What is Special Hockey?
Traditional minor hockey is divided into age categories where it’s up to the athlete to keep up in ability. Special Hockey is not. Special hockey is for young and old, male and female. Everyone participates together. There are no tryouts, no age groups. Players are divided by ability to ensure a fair game for everyone. To start, you don’t even have to know how to skate. You just need the physical ability to be able to learn how.
The skill categories in Special Hockey International are:
A division (Senior)
B division (Intermediate)
C division (Junior)
Mixed division (for clubs that don’t have enough players for separate skill divisions and/or who don't wish to separate them.)
There are no standings, no champions etc... The key thing is participation. Scores mean nothing as soon as the game is over. All games, even in tournaments are treated as “exhibition” games. Coaches are even allowed on the ice during games to assist players that need it. If one team's line has a player with very low skills then they will even be allowed to add an extra player to compensate. In the B, C, & Mixed divisions, “roaming” players utilizing skating aids for balance are even allowed. When one team gets a large lead, most teams will ease off and even let their opponents catch up so that everyone gets to have fun. At tournaments, every player gets the same medal. Athletes are actively encouraged to socialize and make friends with athletes on other teams. Fun, friendship, and participation is the name of the game.
The rules of the game are slightly modified from mainstream hockey: There is no icing, no offsides, no slapshots, and no body checking. Incidental (accidental) contact can and does occur though and is allowed. When a penalty occurs, it results in a penalty shot. Only severe infractions usually send someone to the penalty box. (Coach or ref’s discretion). All games are usually one 45-minute running-time period. Line changes are signaled by a buzzer in all but the A-division games which change on the fly. Shifts are usually 3 minutes long. In the C & Mixed divisions, refs even frequently hand out penalty shots to the lowest skilled players for “no reason” in order to get everyone involved and having fun.