Introduction & Rules
The American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA) was established in 1973 by Chicago businessman Irv Tiahnybik in cooperation with NHL Hall of Fame and former Chicago Blackhawk Star Stan Mikita. It is now under the direction of Tony Granato, former NHL player and current assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. AHIHA has contributed to the growth and development of deaf and hard of hearing players from all across the country. The athletes of the Deaflympics set records and break barriers every time they participate in the Summer and Winter Deaflympics. The first games, known as the International Silent Games, were held in 1924 in Paris. Since then, twenty one Summer Games have been held with 148 athletes competing. The first Winter Games were held in Seefeld, Austria, in 1949 with 33 athletes from five countries competing.
Benefits of Playing Hearing Impaired Hockey
Dr. Mike Bracko, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association has provided some of the overall benefits and rules for playing hockey.
Overall benefits of playing hockey:
- Improved cardiovascular function, endurance and anaerobic power.
- Improved muscle strength and power.
- Improved strength of the core muscles.
- Improved reaction time on the ice.
- Improved eye-hand-stick coordination.
- Increased caloric expenditure during games and practices.
- Increased strength of quads and gluts.
- Stress relief, takes the mind off of problems while playing and practicing.
- Develops a good sense of teamwork
The rules of the game are the same; however, there are three additional rules for players with a hearing loss.
1) Players who use hearing aids or cochlear implants are not allowed to wear them in International Competition.
2) Some players may be able to hear the referees whistle but most cannot, therefore, during hockey games where all the players are deaf/hearing impaired, there are strobe lights attached to the plexi-glass that go on/off to indicate that play has been stopped.
3) Players have to have at least 55 db loss in their better ear to participate in the Deaflympics.