Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The Tournament

I know we're still months away from the official start of another hockey season, but today's piece here on HBIC makes me wish we were closer to the start of the season than where we are today. There's just something about watching kids' faces light up when they get onto the ice for that big game, and I have to say that film director Sam Vint did an outstanding job at capturing this excitement and some of the fun behind the scenes in his newest work entitled The Tournament found on the National Film Board of Canada's website! This look at the Manitoba Sledgehammers sledge hockey team at a tournament in Minnesota shows that hockey, regardless of how it's played, is a universal language for fun, and I have to admit that I am the newest Sledgehammers fan after watching this amazing team in action!

The young man shown in the lede image is Isaac Vint, Sam's son. Isaac was born with spina bifida, and he requires a wheelchair for mobility in everyday life. It all changes when he gets on the ice, though, as Isaac, his sister Cooper, and a pile of other kids grab their sleds, rip up and down the ice, score goals, and pull off moves that I know I cannot do. These young athletes are inspiring, incredible, and absolutely delightful in the film that Sam and Director of Photography Tyler Funk shot over the few days of the tournament.

If you're unfamiliar with sledge hockey, these kids might give you the impetus to hit the ice on a sled. Sledge hockey is an absolute blast from experience despite my poor skills at the game, and I know the kids in The Tournament are exceptional athletes when compared to my skills. I highly recommend you check out the sledge hockey practices and games at the BellMTS IcePlex here in Winnipeg on Sunday mornings if you're curious about the game. Manitoba Possible, formerly Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, does an outstanding job in getting the kids involved in the game, so make the trek down to the IcePlex if you're interested!

Without further adieu, here is The Tournament, written and directed Sam Vint and starring Isaac Vint and Cooper Vint, compliments of the National Film Board of Canada!

The Tournament provided by the National Film Board of Canada

I made reference to Tyler Funk above being the Director of Photography for The Tournament, but he was the guy on the ice following the players around with the camera and I think the perspective shown in following the players at this angle is incredible because it shows the speed, the skill, the physicality, and the fun on the ice. Personally, I'd like to see more sledge hockey games filmed like this, but I get that the international games might be a little perilous with the cameras on the ice. Sam and Tyler deserve a lot of credit for showing the game from this angle because I thought it really showed the game from a player's perspective.

I recognized one of the players right off the bat thanks to an article I wrote last year here on HBIC. Alyssa White was one of the Sledgehammers, and she's now part of the Canadian Women's National Para Ice Hockey Team! Keep an eye out for her in the film because she's legitimately one of the best sledge hockey players in the country!

There's also a short clip where Isaac meets Danny Lilya, and Danny legitimately has not allowed his physical limitations stop him from doing anything. He was the holder for the placekicker for Moose Lake Rebels football team. He is a two-time state champion at Moose Lake high school for shot put. He's a member of the Team USA junior hockey team. He will attend the University of North Dakota starting in September where he will be the first physically-challenged student in the Air Traffic Control Program, and may one day be helping his older brother land planes as his brother is taking the commercial pilot program at UND as well. And it's almost certain that you'll see Danny Lilya playing for the Team USA senior sledge hockey team.

Honestly, The Tournament is one of the best hockey films I've seen in a long time, and I'm excited to see the future successes of Isaac and Cooper Vint on the ice and more incredible films from Sam Vint! As an aside, tune into The Hockey Show tomorrow if you want to hear more about The Tournament as Sam Vint will be joining me on the program!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the hockey!

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