The Central Vermont Pioneers sled hockey team started out its year with 0 wins and 6 losses which was not an ideal way for the team to begin its North East Sled Hockey League play, according to club spokesperson and player Troy Kingsbury.
"However, through perseverance and hard work we overcame our adversity which we are used to doing, to finish our season with three wins and seven losses. After our regular season games ended the Pioneers took to the tournament circuit to work on their game so that they could be ready for the playoffs of the North East Sled Hockey League in March. Our first event took us to Canton, NY, to play in the Mountain Warrior tournament and we ended up losing our very first game," he recalled.
"Deciding that we as players were going to define how we played, we turned that loss into motivation and took home the first-place trophy for our first tournament by winning every game. At our second tournament in Skaneateles, NY, we won all of our games up until the championship game where we were blown out by some dear friends in a 6-0 full-on beat down. Not the ideal way to play a championship game, but we learned not to take an opportunity for granted," he continued.
Last weekend was the NESHL Championship Weekend, and the local team crawled up to the Adult “B” level during the season. They faced teams from Maine, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in match play.
"Our team dug deep, believed in each other and overcame some tough moments to win every game that we played in. We were set up to play a solid team in the championship game, that ironically eliminated us from last year's national tournament, a moment that we had been working towards since our 0-6 start. The men of the Central Vermont Pioneers played with purpose, with heart, and with a belief that they were going to be a winning team that day," Kingsbury said.
"Participating in sports is an opportunity for all people to meet and compete to the best of their abilities, and sled hockey illustrates that most eloquently. Through sled hockey, we see the person, the athlete, their heart, their drive to be better, and their desire to win. We celebrate the wins, we suffer the losses and we learn how to be better people on and off the ice, regardless of our abilities or disabilities. We play each other as hard as we can on the ice, but off the ice we all wear the same jersey. Thank you to all that we meet both on and off the ice and for the good times that create our memories that we will cherish forever. We won it all this past weekend ~ we are the Neshl Adult B Champions," he added.
The championship game was played at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhes, NJ, on March 19 2023.