(Tyron Henry, Assistant Captain of Canada’s Para Ice Hockey team, accepts his Silver Medal at the Beijing Paralympics 2022 on March 13-2022. Photo: Stittsville Central)
Raised in Manitoba, playing ‘stand up’ hockey, Tyrone Henry never thought he would one day be playing on Canada’s Para Ice Hockey team. Stittsville Central caught up with Tyrone last week while he was returning to his home in Carp where he now resides.
Tyrone told us, “I knew I wanted to be a Paralympian Ice Hockey player after watching the game prior to my accident – the game just stuck out in my mind.” In September 2010, Tyrone was in an auto accident that took the use of his lower body. By this time, the family had moved to Ontario – Tyrone played hockey for a Casselman team in the position of defense in which he “played a calm, but a physical game”. The family then moved to Stittsville so Tyrone would be closer to his rehabilitation facilities.
While in hospital, Tyrone again watched the Para Sledge Hockey games in the 2010 Paralympics. He says, “this gave me a purpose – to do something with a purpose!He was determined to return to the ice and within six months of the accident he did so on a sled with the Ottawa Falcons in 2011. His discipline and hard work payed off when he made Canada’s national team in 2016 playing defense. The team won gold the next year at the 2017 World Championships. Tyrone was also named as Best Athlete for Para Ice Hockey at the 2015 Ottawa Sports Awards.
Para Ice Hockey is a fast, physical sport. Players are not only sitting on a special aluminum sled with regulated skate blades, but also guide themselves forward with two sticks. The sled was developed in Canada. An added challenge, players cannot go backwards, nor side-to-side when playing.
In his earlier days of playing Para Ice Hockey, Tyrone credits his mentors, Marc Dorion and Todd Nicholson (of Dunrobin) for helping him be the player he is. Tyrone emphasized“Todd and his wife Emily have been instrumental in my playing the sport. Todd has the same disability, so was helpful in working with me to gain my upper body strength during training so I can continue to play defense. They are both so supportive of all I do and good friends.”
With two silver medal wins in the Paralympics – in 2018 in Korea and 2022 in Beijing – along with two more silvers at the 2019 and 2021 worlds, Tyrone and his team still crave the gold medal. “We went into both Korea and Beijing wanting to win gold. But the US team have always been the team to beat since 2010 and we constantly strive to beat them – they are our adversaries. With our recent silver medal win, we have to appreciate the process and journey to get there. It’s been a great experience and I’ve had many good relationships along the way.” “We have a great group of guys on our team and we all know it’s more about the journey along the way,” added Tyrone.
Preparing for Beijing was a challenge as the team was decentralized for most of the year previous. For Tyrone, he continued to build on his upper body strength – he had a set-up in his Carp home with the equipment required. “The staff in Calgary, worked out a plan for our nutrition to remain healthy.” But, the team was ready to hit the ice and held training camps six times over 2021-22 and again one month before departing for Beijing. “It was important for us to have the opportunity to play and we were grateful for the time together,” said Tyrone.
Tyrone is now returning to his mentorship by continuing to support the young players in the Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario (SHEO) association where he has volunteered for over a decade. He wants to help the sport by “bringing new players in and making the current players the best they can be.
Being involved in SHEO has, “impacted my life and I want the sport to impact their lives,said Tyrone. He wants to share his knowledge, strengthen players with a special skill set and build their confidence. He is also trying to fill his Dad’s shoes. Tyrone’s father, Andrew, was involved with SHEO working with and promoting the Women’s Sledge Hockey team.
Tyrone ended with, “winning the silver medals and especially in Beijing was a proud moment for my family, an achievement for me. My entire family’s efforts were put into my success and I could not be where I am without my family’s support. I am looking forward to the 2026 Paralympics, winning gold, and continuing to encourage young players to make the national team alongside me.”
Canada’s Ice Hockey team are holding their own invitational tournament, the Canadian Tire Para-Hockey Cup, carried live on TSN in December 2022. They will be competing at the World Championships in April 2023, location to be determined. In 2015 the Para Ice Hockey team held a promotional event in Toronto for the 2016 Invictus Games and look forward to another for the upcoming 2025 Games to be held in Vancouver-Whistler, British Columbia. In the interim, the team will be training to play for and win a gold medal for Canada at the 2026 Paralympics.
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