Sled hockey player has eye on goal

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Pierce Grandchamp has a tattoo of the Stanley Cup on his forearm.

For the 19-year-old from Highlands Ranch who has spina bifida, the tattoo serves as a reminder to keep working hard to accomplish his goals.

“It is something that means something,” said Grandchamp, who has been invited to the 2013 USA Sled Hockey Select camp, held July 13-18 at Northtown Center at Amherst in Buffalo, N.Y.

The five-day select camp provides a week of training to develop players. Then tryouts for the U.S. National Sled Hockey team will be held July 19-20. Players who do not make the national team could be selected to play on the USA developmental team.

Players invited to the select camp are between the ages of 13-20, plus older players who have been competing for three years or less.

“I'm looking forward to this,” said Grandchamp. “I want to eventually make the national team or the developmental team. I want to win a gold medal.

“I used to be into ski racing, but hockey took over. The developmental team will go to training camp with the national team, travel and play in some tournaments. The national team goes to different countries and the world championships. They won a silver medal last year.”

Sled hockey is played like traditional hockey. Players compete on specially designed sleds that rest on skate blades. The players use two short sticks with blades on one end to play the puck and metal picks on the other end to propel themselves.

“The most difficult thing was learning to use your non-dominant hand,” said Grandchamp, who plays for the Colorado Avalanche team in the Midwest Sled Hockey League.

Grandchamp is one of five Coloradans invited to the select camp.

The others are Sev Engelbert from Milliken, Chandler Couture from Roxborough, Vlad Lundquist from Colorado Springs and Latseen Benson from Elizabeth.

Tyler Carron and Nikko Landeros, the former Berthoud wrestlers who lost their legs when hit by a car while changing a tire, made the American Sled Hockey team last year.

Bruce Grandchamp, Pierce's father, is president of Colorado Sled Hockey Association.

“The two guys we have on the national team, Tyler and Nikko, are pretty much locks to make the national team again,” said Bruce Grandchamp. “Vlad was on the developmental team last year and Chandler was on it the year before. We have a real good shot at getting a couple players on the developmental team.

“All the guys are close in ability. Vlad has probably the best chance since he was on the team last year. It's highly competitive in a team sport. There are not a lot of those opportunities out there.”

And what about Pierce?

“His hockey IQ is probably better than anybody's,” his dad said. “He is not quite fast enough, so it's hard to say. I think he should be on the team because of his leadership and how he sees the game but they tend to go with straight speed with the players they pick.”

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