It was in a hockey rink in Burnaby, B.C., where Bay Roberts’ Dylan Bradbury found himself among his peers.
Editor's note: Originally, this article referred to Dylan's mother is Annette. That is incorrect. It should read Amanda. This article has been fixed to reflect these changes.
The teenager, who is legally blind, was skating inside the new Fortius Athlete Development Centre Aug. 7-12 as a part of the Courage Canada National Youth Blind Hockey Camp.
Dylan joined more than a dozen visually-impaired players in the camp to hone his skills. The camp featured pro skaters Ryan Kesler, Eric Brewer and concluded with a showdown with Vancouver’s Eclipse blind hockey team.
He was given the opportunity after Courage Canada came to St. John’s earlier this year.
“It was mind blowing,” said mother Amanda of the Burnaby camp. “You had to see it to believe it.”
For a week, Dylan was skating, shooting and scoring with others who were visually impaired just like he was.
Finally, he was playing the game he loves without a disability. For once, Dylan was just like every other player on the ice.
He did not have 20/200 vision. He was just another player and one of the best players in the country.
“It was exciting,” the 15-year-old told The Compass.
It is not an experience he does not get at his home rink in Bay Roberts. A minor hockey player with the Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association, Dylan spends a lot of time making two or three strides up the ice before having to turn around and do the same thing towards the other end.
That was until he went to Burnaby. There, Dylan was just one of the guys. There, he handled the larger than life puck used in blind hockey.
Every time he rolled his wrists from one side of the other, he hears the rattle of the puck. It sounds like a rock locked inside an old tin can.
This rattling helps him pass and shoot the puck like the players back home. Streaking up and down the ice, the tail of his red and white jersey flying in the wind, Dylan played the game like he always imagined playing it.
“It was cool,” he noted.
One thing was like home, however. Amanda was in the stands cheering him on, and his stepfather Johnny Snelgrove was on the bench as his coach.
“I didn’t take it easy on him,” said Johnny with a smile.
“It was great seeing him out there,” added Amanda, a slight crack in her voice. “(Dylan) was as good as everyone on the ice.”
For complete coverage, see a future print edition of The Compass.