By Liam Morgan

Canadian ice sledge hockey bronze medal winner Anthony Gale is also a member of the Cruisers ©Getty ImagesMembers of the Halton-Peel Cruisers ice sledge hockey team were given the surprise of their lives in a Gatorade advert shown in Canada.

Cruisers have two members of the Canadian side that won bronze at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games on their roster - Karl Ludwig and Anthony Gale - and the whole team thought they were filming a routine programme documenting their sport.

Little did they know, however, that several top National Hockey League (NHL) stars - including Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins - were waiting behind a curtain before joining the Cruisers for a special ice sledge hockey match.

The NHL players teamed up with different members of the Cruisers squad, with Giroux leading one side and double Olympic gold medallist Crosby the other.

Sidney Crosby was one of the NHL stars to give members of the Halton-Peel Cruisers a welcome surpriseSidney Crosby was one of the NHL stars to give members of the Halton-Peel Cruisers a welcome surprise ©Getty Images

"We introduced them to the world of sledge hockey and showed them what we do," Ludwig said.

The advert has been widely acclaimed across the country and Crosby, who captained Canada to a second consecutive Olympic title at Sochi 2014  described the Cruisers as "inspirational".

"Their passion for hockey is something we all share no matter what our situations are or where we're from," he said.

"Just seeing the boys and the character they show is such an inspiration to all of us.

"It doesn't matter if its sledge hockey, stand-up hockey, amputee hockey or blind hockey – at the end of the day hockey is hockey."

Kevin Duchane, a former Canada goalkeeper and Cruisers member, added: "As a child I wanted to play with these guys.

"Then I had my accident so getting the opportunity to play with them was the time of my life."

The sport of ice sledge hockey is growing across the world and it has become one of the most popular at the Winter Paralympic Games, and 2014 saw the inception of both the IPC Sledge Hockey Women's World Cup and the IPC Sledge Hockey World Series.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last month in order to continue to help the development of the sport.

Agreed at the IOC session in Monaco, the MoU aims to raise the profile of ice sledge hockey by creating an ongoing awareness campaign as well as incorporating it into the IIHF referring and coaching syllabus.

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International Paralympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation sign MoU to promote sledge hockey