Changes to Saskatoon Minor Hockey Associations' Bantam B & Midget B Divisions for the 2019-2020 Season
This following is a release from SMHA
Date: May 10, 2019
To: Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Members
From: Blair Watson, HRI Executive Director and Kelly Boes, SMHA Executive Director
CC: Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Boards of Directors
SUBJECT: Bantam B and Midget B Body Checking Decision 2019
Saskatchewan’s two largest minor hockey associations, Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association have combined to make a collective decision that will see Body Checking NOT permitted in the Bantam B and Midget B levels of play effective with the coming 2019-2020 hockey season.
Body checking will remain in place in the Bantam AA, Bantam A, Midget AAA, Midget AA and Midget A levels of play.
Both associations’ Boards of Directors showed very strong support on this decision when approving their respective motions.
Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey made this decision based on the success of similar changes made by our neighboring minor hockey associations in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. These associations removed body checking from a minimum of 50% of their bantam and midget hockey in 2015 and 2016. The three other major prairie minor hockey associations have seen the following trends:
- Less drop outs from hockey and better retention rates
- Less post-whistle scrums
- Less animosity amongst the fans watching the games
- More games completed on time without being required to be cut down in time
- Far less aggressive penalties, making the game safer
- Less penalties being called has meant more time on the ice for all players
- The opportunity for kids to have fun playing the game with less fear of injury
- At the levels where body checking has been removed, players are unlikely to require body checking for any hockey beyond minor hockey
The main reason for removing body checking from the B levels of Bantam and Midget is to keep kids in the game of hockey. The removal of body checking from all of peewee hockey by Hockey Canada in 2013 was first seen as a step backwards by some. However, in the ensuing period of time, minor hockey retention rates in peewee hockey have improved and injury (50% reduction) and concussion rates (64% reduction) have dropped significantly in the peewee age group (per University of Calgary study of Alberta Peewee players presented at the International Olympic Committee’s conference on the prevention of injury in sport).
Players have also been able to improve their skills and level of play in peewee by being able to make plays and hold onto the puck versus shooting it away before getting body checked.
Most injuries in bantam and midget hockey occur because of body checking – both legal and illegal checks. Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey do not have statistics to track injuries on body checks made where there was no penalty called on the play.
However, major and match penalties are tracked. In many instances, when a major or match penalty has been called, there is an injury to the receiving player.
Saskatoon Minor Hockey compared the frequency of major and match penalties called for body checking related infractions (Check from behind, head contact, boarding, charging) in 2018-19 between its no body checking Bantam C league vs. Bantam B and its no body checking Midget C league vs. Midget B:
Bantam C – One incident every 37 games played;
Bantam B – one incident every 5 games played
Midget C – One incident every 15 games played;
Midget B – one incident every 4 games played