CHICAGO -- Frank Pierson smiles when he recalls his first few practices with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Chicago Blackhawks sled hockey team.
The 31-year-old U.S Army specialist lost both of his legs after his vehicle came under attack in Baghdad, Iraq, in March 2008. An avid hockey fan, Pierson said his first attempt at sled hockey was "horrible." But it was also motivating.
"I felt stupid the first time, so I had to come back out and try again," Pierson said at McFetridge Sports Center in Chicago, where the Tier I and IV teams practice on Wednesday and Sunday nights. "It's like your mind is thinking of what you have to do, and you know how to do it, but you can't do it. It's like you're trying to catch a ball, but your hands are taped up. But you just keep trying. It's all good, it's all fun."
The Blackhawks Tier I and Tier IV sled hockey teams have formed a tremendous bond and have enjoyed great success, and they're looking to repeat that when they play in the USA Hockey Sled Classic presented by the NHL at MB Ice Arena in Chicago from Feb. 7-10. The classic, which began in 2010 with four teams, will have a record 30 teams participating this year.