Hockey Rules Change for Checking

By KBJR News 1

July 7, 2011 Updated Jul 7, 2011 at 8:07 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter) - There's a new law in the land of Amateur hockey in the United States.
USA Hockey changed the checking age from Peewees to Bantams. Youth players from Denfeld are concerned.

"You can't check, you can just rub out so rubbing out means you can only push them into the boards a little bit."

"Like I'm not happy I have to wait another year or two years before I have to do it."

Nearly a month ago, USA Hockey announced a major rule change for youth hockey across the country. The age of body checking has changed from Peewee age to Bantam age, a decision that's been met with controversy.

"A lot of people have been opposed to it when first hearing of it and honestly I was as well. But if you look at the facts, if you look at the studies, it becomes pretty clear that this direction is a no brainer. I think it will be better for our game."

Even though the act of checking won't start until the bantam level, implementation of body contact at younger ages will be the new platform for coaches to attain.

"We're actually introducing body contact at a younger age now at the squirt level and we're going to teach it throughout peewees and then just delay implementation of full on checking to the bantam levels. So therefore it turns checking into progression like any other skill whereas you really don't have that progression in place. It goes from no body contact to full out checking at the Peewee level."

Christian Koelling says this slower progression is better for American skaters because it allows for a better development of hockey skills.

"With the focus being on playing the body at the Peewee level, we get away from the core skills that are needed to excel in the game. You look at the high level bantam camps that are going on throughout the USA Hockey structure in Minnesota and nationally, there's not a lot of hitting even at the Bantam level."

Like it or not, the rule against checking before the Bantam level will be enforced.

"Well I was kinda disappointed when they said you can't check cause I wanted to lay somebody out."

USA Hockey says the rule change was initially proposed as an idea to increase skill level in American hockey. Health and safety for players were secondary factors in the decision.