There’s nothing worse than having a teammate drop out last minute, and recreation league athletes have often seen it happen.
So, when an ice hockey team was in dire need of a goaltender, the rescue came from an unlikely place. They got the first-ever blind goalie on the team, and the experience was outstanding.
What are the details?
Nelson Rego is blind, and when he decided to fill in as a goalie on an acquaintance’s team, he became the first player in the province history to be a part of a sighted team, according to Good News Network.
Rego played blind ice hockey for the Edmonton “SeeHawks.” He recently met John Hunter, another goaltender, while searching online for a chest protector.
So, when Hunter got injured, the first idea he had for helping his team get a goalie to play on a league game was to connect to the Edmonton Goalies social media page.
“This is low-level stuff, so beginners to pro welcome!!! DM me if you’re interested, and we’ll get you set up,” Hunter wrote in his message, as the outlet points out.
“Nelson calls me, and he starts out with, ‘Hey, I’m not sure if this is a good idea, but I saw your post for a goalie sub for your league game,’” Hunter said for Edmonton news about the unique experience.
When they found out that Rego wanted to play in the match, the team immediately agreed, so Nelson took his kit and prepared for his first sighted league match in his life.
The players revealed that they didn’t let the referee know that the goalie was blind until the puck dropped. Rego, who has been driving motorcycles and racecars since losing his sight, explained that he can always keep himself centered on the goal by using his stick and glove to measure the distance between posts.
And then, sound guides him to where the puck is, and he can figure if it’s being challenged. At the same time, he closely follows audio instructions from his wife Emelinda, who relays the action from the stands.
Rego did his best and earned the admiration of the entire team after the match.
“They made no accommodations for me. It was like being one of the guys and that whole comradery thing that you get; that’s what I love the most,” Rego said.
“These are the nights where legends are born,” Hunter wrote about the special match on social media.
This was a dream come true for Rego, and his advice to other blind players is unwavering.
“Just go for it. If it’s something you want to do, just do it. It’s amazing watching hockey, but it’s even better playing it,” he concluded.
“Good for him, he’s something; bragging rights,” one touched spectator said.