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For many kids with physical disabilities, joining a hockey team is unsafe, at best. Most likely, it's impossible. Enter the D.C. Sled Sharks, a sled hockey team run by National Rehabilitation Hospital for kids who play hard, love to win, and just so happen to use a wheelchair.
Sled hockey -- or sledge hockey, as the Europeans call it -- was invented by three Swedish wheelchair athletes in 1961. Within a year of the game's invention, there were five teams in Stockholm, and by 1994, sled hockey made it to the Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Sitting on a bench outside Kettler Capitals Iceplex, in Arlington, Sled Sharks coach Brian Dutton describes the diversity of his players.
"We've had kids with Spina Bifida, amputees, conjoined twins -- two players that were connected at the head -- on two different sleds," Dutton says.
The players love the fact that they practice on the same ice as the Washington Capitals, Dutton says, because it reframes the way they think about their own abilities.
"Once you get out on the ice, [disabilities don't] matter, it's playing the game," he says. "They love throwing big hits. Everything about hockey, these guys are into!"
[Music: "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk from Discovery]
Photos: The D.C. Sled Sharks