EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Wednesday's Bantam B1 practice in Eden Prairie is a little different, but not because it's outdoors. The players are essentially re-learning how to check safely.
The Minnesota youth hockey board mandated last weekend that every check from behind and boarding penalty be given a five minute major and a 10 minute misconduct, and in a youth hockey game... that's a lot of time.
"It's more responsibility on the player," said head coach Adam Bloomer. "Because now they have to realize that now if they are out there not doing things the right way they are going to sit a period."
The current penalty is just a minute and thirty seconds for either infraction. So these changes are nothing to mess with. But after seeing what happened to Benilde-St.Margaret's sophomore Jack Jablonski, who suffered a spinal cord injury after being hit from behind last month, they know it's something that had to happen.
"It's bad that it takes something like this for it to happen, someone getting hurt like this," said 14-year-old Sam Kotonias. But I think it was good that everyone's attention was finally brought to it.
The changes are bringing harsh penalties but they are not eliciting any harsh reaction. In fact there are some who think it could make the game even better.
"It puts the focus on what it should be puck battles," said Assistant Coach Bill Kotonias. "A lot of the hits that they are eliminating really don't achieve the goal of puck possession.
But the latest penalties do achieve a much more important goal for hockey at all levels, keeping the players safe.
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