Minnesota Hockey Mulls Doing Away with Checking at Some Lower Bantam Levels

January 16, 2018 04:57 PM

Minnesota Hockey, an affiliate of USA Hockey, sent an email survey to parents in the state recently asking if they'd be interested in adding a possible no-check game option for some Bantam players.

"Based on research and recommendations of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine's recent Ice Hockey Summit: Action on Concussions III, and trends in the hockey community, Minnesota Hockey is in the process of evaluating how it can further enhance the safety of its players," wrote Dave Margenau in the survey.


In ice hockey, 13- and 14-year-old boys can play in bantam leagues, the first level in youth hockey in which checking is allowed. 

RELATED: Fighting Back: Former Players Battle NHL

Minnesota Hockey asked parents if they'd be interested in no-check games for some "C level" bantams, while still allowing all bantam leagues to continue checking.

"We love the game, but we need to treat the brain with respect," said researcher Aynsley M. Smith, co-director of the Mayo Clinic summit which took place last September.

Smith, who not only is a researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester but also consults top-notch goalies and other athletes, said because bantams are growing, she supports eliminating checking to limit the amount of hits a child receives in hopes of preventing concussions.

"Then they are hurting themselves, or another player; the checks are not without consequences," Smith said. "When you rock a player into the boards, the brain is bounced forward."

Minnesota Hockey plans to review the survey results later this month.

RELATED: Former NHL Player Donates Brain to Concussion Research

"It's going to be a discussion," said Glen Andresen, Minnesota Hockey's executive director. "If there's any movement, it could be at our April meeting."

At an arena in Blaine, Roger Lucas watched his son play in the finals of a holiday weekend hockey tournament.

"I think that's what the game's about, to play a physical game … intensity," said Lucas, who supports keeping checking in the game. "I think people should have an option at all levels, especially in Minnesota where you have tons of hockey players, not to check, especially in-house programs."

RELATED: USA Hockey sees youth program climb toward top of the heap

Said parent Dwight Green, at the same tournament: "I think (checking is) just part of the game. Hockey's a physical sport." 


Eric Chaloux

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