More stringent penalties for boarding and checking from behind in high school ice hockey have been approved for the 2014-15 season.
Changes to Rule 6-4 (boarding) and Rule 6-7 (checking from behind) were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Ice Hockey Rules Committee at its April 28-29 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
In its ongoing attempt to minimize the risk of injury in the sport, the committee increased the penalty for boarding (Rule 6-4-1) to an automatic major. Previously, it was only a major for a flagrant violation of the rule, which states: “No player shall check, cross-check, elbow, charge or trip an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently into the boards.”
Now, if a flagrant violation of boarding (6-4-2) occurs, or if the check causes the player to crash headfirst into the boards, either a major and misconduct penalty, or a game disqualification penalty, must be assessed.
“Increasing the first level of penalty for boarding should act as a deterrent when combined with proper teaching and education,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS staff liaison to the committee who also serves as NFHS assistant director of coach education. “Boarding is one of the most dangerous plays in the sport, and a flagrant boarding act can carry severe consequences to participants and must be accompanied with stiff penalties.”
Equally dangerous is the act of checking from behind, and the committee increased the first penalty level to an automatic major. A violation of Rule 6-7-1, which states “No player shall push, charge, cross-check or body-check an opponent from behind in open ice,” will now be a major penalty instead of a minor and misconduct.
Schuster said that by increasing the penalties for boarding and checking from behind, the committee wanted to make it clear that this type of dangerous play has no place in high school ice hockey.
“The NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee continues in its belief that the main threat to the health of high school ice hockey is violent and reckless play,” said Tom Shafranski, assistant director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee. “The safety and well-being of the participants is paramount and the primary focus of this committee.”
Among the points of emphasis formulated by the committee for the coming season are player safety/dangerous hits, concussion recognition and management, proper communication to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting, and proper equipment.
According to the 2012-13 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, a total of 35,198 boys participated in ice hockey in 1,601 schools and 17 states. An additional 9,447 girls participated in the sport at 608 schools.