CHARLOTTETOWN – The governing body of ice hockey in Canada has voted to remove body checking from the 11-12 year Peewee level and below. Minimizing risk of injury and teaching proper checking techniques were the main factors.
Hockey Canada’s 94th Annual General Meeting (AGM), attended by more than 250 delegates from across the country, wrapped up last weekend after two days of discussion about the growth and development of Canada’s game.
One of the most notable developments to come out of this meeting was the approval of a rule change governing body checking in Peewee (11-12 years old) and younger age levels in youth hockey.
Starting in 2013-2014, all body-checking from Peewee levels and below within leagues governed by Hockey Canada will be removed.
“We’re really looking at the skill of checking, and body-checking is the last stage,” said Bob Nicholson, Hockey Canada President and IIHF Vice-President, ahead of the vote held last Saturday. “We’re going to really emphasize how you teach checking at a young age.”
In addition to this rule change, a work group has been directed to build a mandatory national checking and instructional resource program to support the progressive implementation of checking skills at the Novice to Peewee levels to better prepare players for body-checking at the Bantam (13-14 years old) and Midget (15-17 years old) level. Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors have also agreed to develop a body-checking standard for coaching, to be implemented in the 2014-15 season.
“We want to teach checking but also we want to teach kids how to take a check,” said Nicholson. “We are looking at some areas of the country where kids can have the option to play without body-checking their whole minor hockey career if they want to have that, but at the competitive level we believe that it should be at the Bantam level.”
The move follows previous body-checking bans at Peewee-level games by hockey associations in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Alberta. In an earlier report by the Canadian Press, research that came out of Alberta last year showed there was a three-fold increase in the risk of injuries for peewee players who check in Alberta, compared to those in Quebec where body-checking is not introduced until the Bantam level.
“We’ve been getting comments from parents saying they want it at an earlier age, at a later age,” said Nicholson. “But I think that the evidence is starting to show that it should come at a later age.”
Below is a comparison of Canada’s body checking regulations governing age with those of other countries.
U13 (starsi zaci)
U12 (mladsi zaci)
U13 (middle school)
U12 (elementary school)
U12 (Mlajsi Decki)
The decision by Hockey Canada, which has provoked mixed reactions and debate in the country, was applauded by USA Hockey, which raised the age of body-checking to 14 and over three years ago.
“We encourage teaching checking in practice at the Peewee level, just no checking in games is allowed,” said Dave Fisher, communications director at USA Hockey.
With the rule change body-checking will be first introduced at the Bantam level of hockey. Body-checking is not permitted in any age group under 13 and it is not permitted at any age level in female hockey.
Hockey Canada’s 2013 AGM brought together the governing body’s board of directors, officers, life members, associate members and representation from all 13 branches, as well as from councils that oversee female hockey, junior hockey, minor hockey, senior hockey and hockey development.
With files from Hockey Canada