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Thumbs up to Hockey Canada from this hockey mom. #banningbodycheckingforpeewees

3 Jun

Minor Hockey accross Canada just received a huge leap forward in safety this past week with the banning of body checking at the PeeWee level by Hockey Canada.

Peewee players are typically in the age range of 11 and 12 years old. Kids that age vary so much in height, size, strength and maturity. If I look around at the kids I know who are in that age range, some are tall, others haven’t even started to grow yet, some are heavy, some are light, some are strong and others are slight. Put boys beside girls at that age and same thing. Although, often its the girls at that age who are taller, but maybe not with as much strength as the boys.

All that aside, some of these players may have started late and have only played a few years. Even if they started when they were little, some don’t pick up the game for many years. This ruling will allow these players to focus on continuing to improve their skill without the added concern of keeping themselves safe during a hit. Allowing them the extra time to get used to these newly changing bodies and the power behind some of that size and strength prior to the body contact can help them learn both how to take a hit and give a hit more safely as well.

Another area I think this adds to the benefit is in the smaller centers who don’t have a separate boys and girls team. I know, I know that the girls have been and can continue to play with boys teams after body checking is introduced,  but there are also many who decide that once that is introduced, they no longer wish to play. This leaves them out of a sport that they grew up with and have enjoyed playing for many years. One can argue that won’t the issue just be delayed and they will just quit when Bantam rolls around? If they choose to play at Bantam won’t the boys be that much stronger when starting to hit than they were in peewee? And yes, the answer to both of those is yes, I suppose that is true. However, this will give them 2 extra years not having to worry about it and the skill that can develop over those two years is worth the trade off.

Another issue especially in smaller centers is the referreeing of these games. I know where we live, its kids, ranging in age from 12-16, who ref the peewee age level games. Kids who are only years older, if not the same age. They are just starting to ref and are so focused on the puck and the rules that bad hits, too many hits, unsafe hits often go uncalled or missed. So taking that aspect out, allows the refs to develop their skills and learn the rules and apply the rules in a safer environment.

Parental involvement when checking is happening is another area where I would assume intensifies. Its awkward anyways at that age and some do it well and others just try but don’t do it very well at all. Perhaps this will help us in the stands to remember just how little these kids are and take some of that competitiveness back to a more appropriate level as well. This added intensity also puts extra pressure on the refs previously mentioned and again will take some of the pressure off of them in that area.

I don’t see a lot of negatives with this ruling. I think its about time we start focusing on the actual skills and abilities of the players and start to take steps to reduce the brutality that this sport is exhibiting as of late. It makes me happy on so many levels, however, I am sure there are things I am overlooking and I actually am interested to read other people’s opinions on this and see it from another perspective. If I have offered that up to you, that’s great. If your opinion differs, I would love to hear why.

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