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League releases instructional hockey checking video


The Minnesota State High School League staff has completed production of an instructional video intended to demonstrate proper and improper checks and hits in hockey in a continuing effort to educate players, coaches, officials and fans so that potential injurious actions are reduced and ultimately eliminated from the game.



Two weeks ago the League Board of Directors has approved a recommendation to stiffen several penalties in hockey that become effective immediately. The goal is to continue the League's efforts to reduce and remove dangerous contact that has led to severe injuries to players.

The recommendation came from staff, the League's Hockey Advisory Committee (girls' and boys' coaches), and officials association representatives.

The penalties for three infractions of the rules have been significantly increased in an effort to thwart players from making dangerous hits on the ice.

Checking from behind, which formerly called for a two-minute minor penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct penalty, will now become a five-minute major penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct penalty. The existing rule also states that any check from behind that is deemed "flagrant or causes the player to crash headfirst into the boards or goal frame" will continue be a game disqualification. The disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

Boarding, defined as a "check, cross-check, elbow, charge or trip" that sends an opponent "violently into the boards" now becomes an automatic major penalty five minutes instead of the option of either a two-minute minor penalty or a five-minute major penalty. The existing rule that also states that any boarding check that "causes the player to crash headfirst into the boards" may qualify for a game disqualification. The disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

Contact to the head also now becomes an automatic major penalty five minutes instead of the option of either a two-minute minor penalty or a five-minute major penalty. The rule states, "No player shall make contact with an opposing player's head or neck area in any manner." Officials still have the option of assessing a disqualification penalty if warranted, and in that case the disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

At the Jan. 10 advisory committee meeting the committee members immediately established a priority to address the issue of proper contact in the game. The boys' and girls' coaches on the committee quickly agreed that the best way to address increasing violent hits was to escalate the penalty structure and to get all parties involved to seek to change the culture of the game. The coaches need to accept the stiffer penalties and need to instruct their players the proper and legal ways of making contact with opponents. The officials need to make the calls and when the calls are made, they need to be supported by not only the coaches, but also by the players and the fans.

An education module was immediately made available online that detailed the rules changes. It remains accessible on the League website. All coaches, officials and players were instructed to view the education module and endorse its implementation prior to the next scheduled competition.

Components of the educational video were taped utilizing coaches and players of the Andover High School girls' and boys' hockey teams and has been in production since then.

"Hockey is a contact sport, and when it is played correctly it should be a safe game with minimal risks," said Craig Perry, League associate director who oversees hockey. "This video will allow all participants in the game to see exactly what kind of contact is permitted and what kind of contact is going to draw the new tougher penalties.

"The players have to be kept as safe as possible, and with a little bit of education and clear thinking while they are on the ice, I firmly believe we can change the culture of the game.

"There is absolutely no reason why the State of Hockey cannot become the State of Safe Hockey."
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