This weekend, the Central Hockey League's Denver Cutthroats are holding open tryouts and according to the team, 43 players have signed up. Among them is 23-year old winger Scott Stafford, who is just like every other participant there trying keep his hockey dreams alive; but what sets Stafford apart from the other 42 players is his battle to get there.
Looking at Stafford, you might not notice it at first, but eventually you'll realize he's playing hockey with just one hand. What acts as his left hand is his jersey wrapped in a ball and taped to his stick. The Ontario native was born without the hand after his umbilical wrapped so tightly around his wrist, but quickly learned that wouldn't stop him from playing.
From a 2011 Hamilton Spectator story:
"But wanting to be like the other kids in the St. Thomas community where he grew up — and loving hockey — he and his dad set out to figure how he could play. After a little experimenting, they discovered that by tucking the overtaped knob of his stick into the crook of his elbow and resting the shaft of the stick along his forearm, he could generate enough torque to pass, receive passes and shoot. Quickly he realized he’d have to compensate for his lack of strength with excellent skating and great anticipation. In other words, do everything in the game that doesn’t involve the stick better than anyone else."
According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post (who hipped the Internet to this story on Friday), Stafford impressed Cutthroats head coach Derek Armstrong on the opening day of tryouts.
It remains to be seen if he'll make the final cut, but with the determination he's shown his entire life, you can bet he'll end up playing somewhere, if not for the Cutthroats.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy