Under the proposal, checking would be allowed only in tiers one and two of minor hockey play, as well as the AA and AAA midget levels.
The ban was imposed on the peewee level (ages 11-12) in 2013 after a unanimous vote by members of the minor hockey board.
It has received mixed reviews from parents and players since its implementation.
Statistics posted by Hockey Alberta in 2013 indicated that removing body checking from the peewee age level would eliminate 200 concussions and 1,000 injuries per year.
Checking is a major part of the game in the higher levels, but is seen as unnecessary in less competitive leagues, prompting Hockey Alberta to look into extending the ban to older age groups.
“Very often at the lower levels of play, the fundamental skills needed to properly and safely receive or deliver a body check are lacking.”
Despite the efforts to eliminate body checking, it is nearly impossible to eliminate body contact altogether.
The difference between the two is that body checking is an intentional act, used to separate an opponent from the puck to gain possession. or body position.
Body contact on the other hand is the incidental contact between opposing players, usually when two players are skating in the same direction.
Hockey is played in an enclosed area, making body contact a very common occurrence.
“The game has become less about the big open ice body check,” said Hnatowich. “It has become more about stick positioning, angling and speed.”
It is not the intention of Hockey Alberta to ban contact, but to ban the intentional use of force, which is commonly linked to various injuries.
Hockey Calgary also implemented the “handshake rule,” which bans opposing teams from shaking hands after a game.
This is after a few incidents where the handshake line turned ugly.
The National Hockey League is taking the next step to protect players from head injuries as well.
Sports-related brain injuries have been receiving more attention as doctors discover just how serious they can be.
“The game has become less about the big open ice body check,” – Reid Hnatowich
There is very little evidence that points to body checking being beneficial to players at the peewee age level.
Player dropout increased when checking became mandatory, showing that not all players enjoy the physical side of the game.
Hockey Calgary plans to implement non-checking leagues at all age levels in the future.