January 29, 2014 Updated: January 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm
It was an eye-opening experience for the Tigers and fun for all.
Fourteen of the Colorado College players and assistant coach Joe Bonnett took advantage of their bye week to scrimmage the U.S. Paralympics sled hockey team Wednesday.
The Tigers were impressed by Team USA after trying out their version of the sport for 50 minutes at World Arena.
"We have much respect for these guys," freshman defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. "I had a lot to learn, especially stopping and turning. As the day went on I think I picked things up a little bit, but I still can't play that game."
Most of the Tigers struggled to keep their balance on the sleds, which include two skate blades under their seat and a sled to strap their legs onto.
The Paralympians enjoyed playing the Tigers.
"It's a great experience for us," forward Dan McCoy said. "They asked a lot of smart questions and they weren't afraid to ask them. We have fun showing them our version of the sport."
"It's important to show that people with disabilities can do instead of cannot do," said 2010 gold-medal goalie Steve Cash.
It was especially fun for Team USA coach Jeff Sauer and general manager Dan Brennan, both former CC players. Eleven of the 17 U.S. players have practiced at World Arena over the past week. More arrive soon before practices conclude in mid-February.
"It's fun to be in Colorado Springs," said Sauer, a 1965 graduate who served as an assistant under coach Bob Johnson from 1966-68 and coached the Tigers from 1971-82. "My kids were born here. I met my wife here. It is a lot of fun for the guys because they are such great ambassadors for their sport. They also help people realize how good they are and how tough this is."
The Tigers know now.
"It was humbling to see what they can do," CC captain Eamonn McDermott, said. "They are an inspiration to all of us."
USA Hockey and the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association, which has 28 people ranging in age from 8-59 in its sled program, set up the scrimmage. CSAHA provided the sleds for the Tigers.
CC goalie Josh Thorimbert was thankful to get to meet the U.S. team.
"It's an honor to be out there and play with those guys because they have a ton of skill," Thorimbert said. "They skated circles around us. It really shows the dedication and hard work they put into the sport and the strength they have."