The third week in November was a special one for the National Wheelcats and specifically, the Nashville Sled Preds. Along with the Nashville Predators, the National Wheelcats co-hosted the 7th annual USA Hockey Sled Classic presented by the NHL. Companies that service the disabled community sponsored the tournament and were on-hand exhibiting their unique products and services. Of the 24 teams competing in this premier sled hockey event, 3 Sled Preds teams proudly wore the Gold representing the Nashville Predators.
In the fall of 2014, the National Wheelcats and the Nashville Predators were approached about hosting the 2015 Sled Classic by the powers that be within USA Hockey. Though the National Wheelcats were ready and willing, the Nashville Predators preferred to wait another year because they had committed all their resources and staff to host the NHL All Star weekend in January 2016. Wrapping up one of the most acclaimed NHL All Star weekends, the Predators organization was able to turn its attention toward the Sled Classic held November 17-20 at Ford Ice Center. Staff at Ford Ice Center, a facility operated by the Predators, assisted by securing hotel block rates, training & scheduling referees to officiate sled hockey, setting up exhibit and storage space, and hanging sponsor banners. The Predators Foundation donated items for player goody bags and a PK Subban autographed pennant for our raffle. Though there were a few other events at Ford Ice Center that weekend, the Predators basically reserved their newest facility to the Sled Classic showcasing the sport.
Hosting a tournament of this size requires significant financial support. We were fortunate to enjoy the support of several companies whose purpose is providing goods and services for people with disabilities. Braunability and Permobil exhibited the new MVX Ford Explorer, a fully wheelchair accessible SUV. Max Mobility and Numotion were respectively highlighting an assistive propulsion device and shock absorbing Softwheels. An innovative, custom molded bucket seat for a sled was presented by Bulow Orthotics & Prosthetics. On Target for Vets, United Spinal, and Vanderbilt’s Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital manned booths emphasizing their services. Lott Medical and ABC Medical were on hand promoting medical supplies. These companies exist to make our lives easier. We were grateful to have them sponsor the tournament, and grateful for their work supporting the disabled community off ice as well.
The Sled Classic is the 2nd largest sled hockey tournament in North America. We welcomed hundreds of athletes and coaches on 24 teams representing their NHL counterparts. The Sled Classic is unique in that teams are required to have the full support of their local NHL team. Participating sled hockey teams are also required to wear their affiliated NHL team’s jersey. Representing the Nashville Predators, the Sled Preds iced 2 teams in the Tier V division, and another in Tier III.
The Colorado Avalanche won a pair of division titles by topping the Buffalo Sabres, 6-2, in the Tier I title game and edging the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2, in the Tier III championship game. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 7-3, to claim the Tier II crown while theNashville Predators blanked the Boston Bruins, 3-0, in the Tier III championship game. In the first-ever Tier V title game, the Carolina Hurricanes shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-0, for the division title.
Of course the tournament would not have happened without the tireless effort and commitment of Sled Preds staff and volunteers from the community. Local high school hockey teams, a Civil Air Patrol group, Wheelcats athletes, family members, & friends all pitched in to make the 2016 Sled Classic one of the best run sled hockey tournaments in recent memory. The Nashville community could not have been better represented.
Adult & Jr Teams