Emmett Lyons plays for the Sherwood Falcons peewee AAA hockey team. He is one of the players who is playing without bodychecking this season after a Hockey Canada rule change.
Hockey Canada decision based on research to keep players safe
Emmett Lyons is expecting quicker games this hockey season.
The 12-year-old Blooming Point resident is one of the players getting used to the removal of bodychecking from peewee hockey across Canada.
“I think it’s going to be a lot faster game because when you hit someone it takes them out of the play,” Lyons said Monday night.
Delegates from provincial branches across the country voted to ban bodychecking in peewee (11- and 12-year-old players) during Hockey Canada’s annual general meeting this spring in Charlottetown. The vote came after provincial branches in Nova Scotia and Alberta banned peewee bodychecking.
Lyons started bodychecking in 2009 during spring hockey when his teams played against squads from the United States, but 2012-13 was the first season he played a full year in a bodychecking league. Now he’s back in the non-bodycheck environment.
“It’s kind of strange at the start, but once the year progresses I will probably get used to it again,” Lyons said.
The decision was made after research was presented showing there is an increased risk of injury, including a four times greater risk of concussions, with bodychecking in peewee.
“I’ve never been hit from behind or to the head or anything,” Lyons said.
But “when there’s a bigger guy than you you’re kind of aware (and) watching out for him.”
Paul Carson, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey development, said it has worked to develop programs and train coaches and officials since the rule change.
“People have to understand, these decisions are made in the best interest of the players,” he said during a recent stop in Charlottetown.
Carson said Hockey Canada has worked to develop resources to educate players, coaches, parents and officials. He said the change is a slight adjustment to the way the game is played.
“There’s still a lot of contact in the game,” he said. “As soon as contact is made people shouldn’t be yelling for a penalty.”
Carson said people have to be patient, similiar to when other new rules were implemented. Whether the bodychecking change worked will take longer to measure.
“We’ll look to our researchers, who are working on everything from injuries to concussions in sport, and have them talk to us about where they’re seeing the trends at the peewee level,” Carson said.
There is a difference between body checking and body contact. Here are Hockey Canada’s definitions:
Incidental contact of two opposing players in pursuit of the puck or position on the ice in the same direction. Body contact occurs as a result of movement by the offensive player.
An attempt by a player to gain an advantage on the opponent with the use of the body. Body checking results when two opposing players collide while skating in opposite directions or when positioning and angling allow the checker to use the force of the body to gain the advantage.
A concussion symposium hosted by Hockey Hall of Famer and five-time Vezina Trophy winner Ken Dryden will take place tonight.
The free symposium takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Rodd Royalty Inn in Charlottetown.
The symposium, being hosted by CHANCES Family Centre, in partnership with Hockey P.E.I., will explore many aspects of concussion injuries. Joining Dryden will be athletes, sports medicine experts Dr. William Stanish, Dr. David MacKenzie, Dr. Bill Montelpare and Dr. Neil McLure, along with Hockey Canada’s Todd Jackson, UPEI Panthers coaches Forbie MacPherson and Bruce Donaldson and Charlottetown Islanders’ Kevin Elliott.