A recent study has revealed that a rule change is beneficial to peewee hockey players.
Since the removal of hitting in the peewee league in 2013, concussions have dropped 64 per cent according to a University of Calgary study.
Though the numbers are down, those involved in minor hockey are still not 100 per cent convinced the rule change is a good thing.
“In my mind, atom is the way to go because they are all the same height. If you can teach young kids the proper way, they’ll have more respect for hitting and a lot better understanding on how to hit as well as the point of hitting in hockey,” said Colby Stone, a minor hockey coach in Coaldale.
Brain injuries have been a big topic in the sporting world especially in hockey and there have been attempts to control the amount of game injuries.
Many in the hockey community say pushing the age limit for hitting down to younger ages would lead to players getting more experience in body checking.
A big factor of that is getting coaches who can properly teach the art of checking.
“I’ve always been old school, I would like to see it [the rule change] go opposite right down to initiation, but I think the biggest thing is to have proper instructors to instruct how to hit properly,” said Marty Palechuk, Athletic Therapist for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Even though there are stricter rules on and off the ice when dealing with concussions, the proper protocols have to be followed before players can return to the ice.
“You have to take them behind the scenes and go through the proper testing to make sure they are ready to go. If there are any signs [of a concussion], you have to get the medical staff involved,” said Palechuk.
While the injury numbers are down in peewee, many minor hockey members are concerned with the step up to bantam where body checking is allowed.
The University of Calgary says there is no evidence of a jump in injuries for first year bantam players, even though players enter into a whole new game with bigger players.
“I felt it was pretty unsafe for kids considering how much of a size difference there is between peewee and bantam. Kids aren’t going to learn how to hit properly and how to take a hit properly at that age,” said Stone.
The one year of checking that second year players have over the players coming up from peewee is a big advantage when it comes to in-game experience.
The average number of concussions in peewee have dropped by more than 4,800 across Canada since the ban came into effect.