A decorated member of Canada’s national para hockey team is calling it a career after 59 international games and a shelf full of gold and silver hardware.
Bryan Sholomicki, originally from Winnipeg, wrapped up a stellar run on Wednesday, officially announcing his retirement via Hockey Canada.
Sholomicki told 680 CJOB’s Sports Show that hitting the ice and trying sledge hockey a few years after a serious motorcycle accident was a mix of therapy and exercise.
“I loved hockey growing up. I was always playing,” he said.
“It was one of those things that I knew was a great recovery for me after the accident. Once I was able to get back on the ice, I was right in there, and felt right back at home there.”
Sholomicki was a quick study on the sled, and began getting noticed by national scouts soon after he picked up the sport in 2012.
“You get to know people in the neighbourhood you’re playing in, so you have a few national players here and there showing you the ropes,” he said.
“I was very fortunate that I had a couple guys spotting me. I think I made the national development team a year and a half after I first started playing. I had one camp with them, then I went to the tryouts and I was drafted into the national team.”
That was the beginning of an international career that saw Sholomicki collect a gold medal and four silvers in World Championship competition, a bronze at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge, and, most memorably, a silver medal at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
“It’s hard to describe it in words… you’re meeting all types of people from all over the world, and you’re seeing how they train and what they do,” he said.
“You meet a lot of friends, even if they’re rivals on the ice.
“My first game at the Paralympics, I scored a hat trick against Sweden, so that was a nice high for sure.”
Sholomicki said he’s seeing international interest and awareness in the sport growing, and more countries giving financial backing to national para-sports programs.
At this point, though, the 38-year-old is content with watching from the sidelines.
“I’m going to focus on my family and work. I’m a contractor as well, so now I can focus on business, just taking some time to myself, and family,” he said.
“They backed me so much through this experience. To be away 100-plus days of a year, it’s pretty hard on the family. I appreciate them allowing me to live my dream like that.
“Now it’s my turn to give back.”
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