Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey is for the individual who has been diagnosed with a hearing loss. The game is played according to USA Hockey rules and instruction is based on the individual players ability to improve their skills in an environment that is receptive to their needs and demands. The ability to communicate with coaches and other players regardless of their method of communication is a huge focus. Whether a player utilizes sign language, lip reading, hearing aids, or cochlear implants, etc. coaches and volunteers are there to make sure they understand the instruction. Interpreters are accessed on an as needed basis and according to the needs of the players and situations. Personal and volunteer interpreters are always welcome on the bench.

Many Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey players participate in their local hockey associations and in high school, college and jr. teams. Many have also gone on to play for the US Deaf Ice Hockey Team in the Deaflympics. Participation allows players the opportunity to achieve goals and become successful in both life and hockey. Minnesota Wild Deaf/HOH Hockey is expanding on this concept to create the first district Deaf/HOH Association in the country.


​Any hockey player or coach will tell you, since hockey is the fastest played game in the world, communication is an integral part of a hockey team’s success. Imagine playing a hockey game and not being able to hear a teammate call your name for a pass. It’s almost hard to fathom. Being able to perform under these circumstances shows how skilled and talented deaf hockey players are.

  • Coaches communicate to the players through an interpreter or volunteers skilled in ASL. Many players are adept at reading the lips of their coaches and teammates. Players also use their hands and sticks to communicate when the situation allows.

  • When a whistle blows during the game, referees raise their arms or shine lasers on the ice to inform the players that there has been a stoppage in play.

  • During games, strobe lights are installed outside of the rink near the boards that illuminate when a whistle has been blown so that players know the play is dead.

  • Not every player is completely deaf. National eligibility requires that a player must have at least a 55 decibel loss in their better hearing ear.

  • To participate in World Deaf Ice Hockey Championship games, all players are required to remove devices used to improve a players’ hearing such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.



Minnesota Wild Deaf/HOH Hockey instills confidence and self-esteem in deaf and hard of hearing athletes, while building life skills through the game of hockey.


Irv Tiahnybik had a dream for his son Lex, who is hard of hearing. He envisioned a hockey school where hard of hearing/deaf youngsters could learn about hockey without being hassled by hearing people who couldn't deal with the needs of deaf and hard of hearing athletes.

So, in 1973, Irv, a Chicago businessman, went to his good friend, Stan Mikita. He asked Mikita, then playing for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, for help launching the school. These determined and dedicated men formed their own team and began to organize the effort in earnest. They found others…volunteers like themselves...who were willing to give their time and talent to organize a first-ever hard of hearing hockey clinic.


Stan and Irv quickly discovered that they were right on target. The first Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired was a tremendous success. Thirty-one deaf and hard of hearing boys from several states ventured to Chicago for a week’s worth of instruction and fun. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 2022, Minnesota hockey, in partnership with the Minnesota Wild, announced the launch of Minnesota’s first ever Deaf/HOH hockey program.


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For any questions, please contact Toni Gillen.