Hurricanes fan with spinal defect brings sled hockey to Raleigh, hopes to recruit new players

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Tyler Jacoby’s love for hockey started back in 2006, when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.

“I’ve been a Hurricanes fan my whole life,” said Jacoby. “One day I was watching one of their games and I said ‘Hey, I want to play like them.'”

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Tyler, 15, who was born with spina bifida, was determined to get on the ice.

“They pushed me around in a medal folding chair,” he said. “Did that for like a season or two and I got my first sled.”

With the help of his parents, Tyler began to organize sled hockey in Raleigh. This year marks the first season for the Hurricanes Sled Hockey team.

“This is all Tyler’s doing you know,” said Brant Ireland. “Tyler and his parents. What an opportunity they’ve given so many of us.”

Ireland, an Army Sergeant First Class, grew up as an all-around athlete.

“I played football, basketball and baseball in high school and played college baseball,” he said. “And then into the military.”

Ireland found out about adaptive sports after losing his left leg in Afghanistan.

“I feel horrible saying it now, but I want to play real sports,” he said. “Little did I know how incredible the athletes are I would face…it just opened up a whole new world in the competitive arena.”

“You have two choices,” said Hurricanes sled hockey coach Geoff Wing. “You can either say why me or you can go, ‘hey no excuses, you’re going to have to contribute just like everybody else.’ It’s been eye opening for me just to see how dedicated and how good they are frankly.”

Each player has their own story but on the ice they’re just teammates.

“I fit in great with these guys,” Jacoby said. “Because they have the same kind of stuff going on so that’s really cool.”

“We’re all going to have those days,” Ireland said. “We are going to have our feel sorry for ourselves moments and they come and go, but without an opportunity like this, it would make things a lot more difficult.”

The program hopes to continue adding new players. If you’re interested in joining you can connect with them on their Facebook page or Instagram.

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