NHL Color of Hockey Features Blast’s Villegas

A Space Coast Blast and USA Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team player was featured in the NHL’s Color of Hockey Blog. This is a must-read story about Karina Villegas: a strong, remarkable woman who is not only a great teammate, friend and mother but an advocate for the growth of sled hockey in Latin America.

Karina Villegas

Karina Villegas (Photo: Justin Markwalter)

Last year, Karina participated in a sled hockey demo and clinic at the LATAM Cup. Afterwards, she met and talked with a player from Argentina. As a result of watching the game and chatting with Karina, he wanted to start a sled program in his country. He returned to Argentina with a set of Karina’s sticks and a sled from Coach Ron Robichaud. Recently, he sent a video of players trying sled hockey in Argentina. Previously, she travelled to Puerto Rico with Coach Ron and the Sled Bandits. Karina’s dream of bringing sled hockey to Latin America is starting to come true!

Hockey Puerto Rico

Florida Sled Hockey “Grow the Game Tour” in Puerto Rico: Greg Shaw – 2x Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medalist, Monica Quimby – USA Women’s Developmental Sled Hockey Team, Carlos Mendez – Aguadilla, Puerto Rico Mayor and Karina Villegas – USA Women’s Developmental Sled Hockey Team

Check out thisTweet from USA Sled Hockey player Josh Pauls:

We are so lucky to have Karina as a member of our Space Coast Sled Hockey family. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!! Check out our schedule to watch Karina and the team play this season.

Space Coast Blast Adult Team 2020

Space Coast Blast (Photo: Sophie Szymula)

Under 18 World Sled Hockey Champions

Captain Tripp Skinner and Alternate Captains Tony Martinez and Brett Bolton

The Space Coast Blast Sled Hockey team, reigning USA Under 18 National Champions, added U-18 World Champions to their already impressive resume. The Blast participated in the 1st ever Youth International Sled Hockey Invitational from Oct 30-Nov. 3, along with previous USA champions the Hope Inc. Hurricanes from Fargo, ND, the Grand Rapids Sled Wings from Michigan and a National All Star Team from Russia.

Pre-game Blast vs Russia

Yes you read that correctly, a sled hockey team from warm, sunny Florida defeated a National All Star Team from Russia in the championship.

Champion Space Coast Blast and Runner-Up Russian Youth National All-Star Team

Over the weekend tournament in Grand Rapids, MI, the Space Coast Blast finished with an overall record of 3-1. Their only loss was in the first game of the tournament to Russia 2-1. Game two was a come from behind 4-2 victory over rival the Hope Inc. Hurricanes from Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota. A 6-0 victory over the Grand Rapids Sled Wings in game three guaranteed the Blast a rematch with Russia in the championship.

Top (R to L): Assistant Coach Amanda Martori, Head Coach Lee Skinner and Assistant Coach Liam Fitzgerald. Middle Row (R to L): Madeleine Gallagher, Sebastian Hardcastle, A – Brett Bolton, C -Tripp Skinner, Nick Witkowski, Jayden Debiram, Sophie Szymula, Logan Eising and A – Tony Martinex. Front: Goalie Sean Gallagher

In the championship, the Big 5 starting line-up of Brett Bolton, Nick Witkowski, Jayden Debiram, Tony Martinez and Tripp Skinner sparked the team and stunned the Russians with a goal by Bolton in the first 46 seconds of play.

The second goal scored by Captain Skinner in the 3rd secured the win.

Blast goalie Sean Gallagher played outstanding in net keeping the Russians off the scoreboard, his second shutout of the tournament. S. Gallagher was backed by solid defense from Witkowski, Martinez and Skinner. Forwards Jayden Debiram, Madeleine Gallagher, Logan Eising and pusher Sophie Szymula and Sebastian Hardcastle kept the pressure on the Russian goalie and defense all game. Head Coach Lee Skinner was supported by Assistant Coaches Amanda Martori and Liam Fitzgerald and a large group of parents and friends in the stands and back home in Florida.

In addition to completive sled hockey games, the teams participated in joint practices, fun activities and meals together. Our players broke the ice on the first night and used Google Translate to talk with and learn about their Russian competitors. After that all four teams enjoyed learning about different cultures and meeting other top youth sled hockey players from around the USA and Russia.

Socializing with youth team from Russia

Karina named to USA Women’s Sled Hockey Team

USA Hockey announced their 2019-20 roster for the USA Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team following their tryouts in July. Space Coast Sled Hockey player Karina Villegas was named to the team for the 3rd Consecutive season.

The press release can be found at https://teamusa.usahockey.com/news_article/show/1037546?fbclid=IwAR0QYkDdg3NcPxQi_eaJgtQUm7-yQ6TfK0rCiOghwhOi73iEmbJEcDNJvmY. For more information on the USA Women’s Development Sled Hockey Team visit https://teamusa.usahockey.com/womensledhockey.

USA Sled Hockey Player Development Camp 2019

Sean, Tony and Brett Arrive at USA Sled Development Camp in Amherst, NY

60 sled hockey players from across the country were invited to USA Sled Hockey Player Development Camp in July. During the camp, players participated in on-ice practices, classroom sessions and games, and were coached by Paralympic gold medalists and USA National team coaches.

Brett Bolton, Beau Corbett, Sean Gallagher, Tony Martinez and Nick Witkowski represented the Space Coast Blast and were joined by Dan Robbins and Kasey Yates for a total of 7 players from Florida.

Beau was a member of Team White and beat Tony and Team Gold in the camp championship game.

Florida and Space Coast Blast were also well represented at USA Sled National and Development Team tryouts with the D Camp crew and Tripp Skinner.