Lack of Funding is Last Hurdle

Ever since he severed his right hand in a farming accident more than a decade ago, Kory Lorentz has made it his personal mission to knock down barriers.

There remains one hurdle the St. Clements, Ont., man hasn’t quite been able to clear. "Not all of our guys are here," Lorentz, 34, said of his teammates with the five-time world champion Canadian Amputee Hockey Team. The club was holding an open training camp and charity fund-raiser — even without some key team members.

"Our guys from out west just can’t afford to take time off work or to make the trip," Lorentz said. Players on the self-funded national team will have to scrape together $3,500 each if they intend to help Canada defend its title at the World Championship in Finland this spring. So attending this training camp is out of reach for many.

"That’s a challenge. We’ve lost so many players. They just can’t afford to be on the team," said Lorentz, who runs a cash crop and beef farm. The charity game was a pitting of the national team against the Monkton Lady Wildcats, and also marked International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as declared by the United Nations.

"We felt this game was a perfect event. Canadians are all about hockey and we are (showcasing) people with disabilities and how they can mainstream into the game," said Mary Anne Melanson, Perth County’s accessibility co-ordinator.

Lorentz said his duties as a member of the national team aren’t just to help preserve the world title, but to help open up a world of opportunities for young Canadians who suffer from a disability. "We are not just building hockey players. We are building self-esteem," said the father of two. "Even when people have had an amputation or some type of disability, they need to know there still is fun to be had and success to be had."

The national amputee hockey team, which has not yet been granted federal funding, plays full-throttle hockey with a twist. Unlike sledge hockey, whose players are seated on specially-designed sleds, amputee hockey players stand on their skates. Members of the amputee team use regular hockey equipment, although they are minus a limb or two and some players are fitted with prostheses.

Canada cruised undefeated through the most-recent five-team World Tournament last year in Montreal, dumping Finland 11-2 in the final. "I guess you could say we are pioneers in our sport," said team member Kevin Delaney, of Windsor, Ont.

(December 2, 2011. The Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Christine Rivet.)