During its summer board meeting on June 24th, the Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors adopted a resolution to increase the focus on accountability and education to eliminate illegal play in hockey games. Included is an extension of the penalty pilot program for the 2012-13 season. The penalty pilot program requires a minimum five (5) minute major penalty for all checking-from-behind and boarding infractions. The penalty pilot program was first implemented on January 25th, 2012 in the wake of injuries to two Minnesota high school hockey players, Jack Jablonski and Jenna Privette.
“The Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors unanimously share the goal of ensuring that our great game is played in as safe of an environment as possible with an emphasis on skill, speed and finesse ,” said Dave Margenau, Minnesota Hockey President. “Because the pilot program was introduced late in the season, most teams played just 5 – 6 weeks of games with the stiffer penalties. The Board believes that more time is needed to effectively measure and evaluate the impact of the change.”
In addition to extending the penalty pilot program, Minnesota Hockey will continue to take steps to affect a culture change in the sport which no longer tolerates dangerous and intimidation play.
“The enhanced penalty for certain infractions is only a part of the solution. We need our coaches, parents, players and officials working together to embrace safety, skillful play and respect in our game,” said Margenau.
As the governing body of youth and amateur hockey in the state, Minnesota Hockey has been a national leader in creating safety initiatives for youth hockey. In 2004, Minnesota Hockey, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, introduced the Hockey Education Program (HEP). The objective of HEP is to provide a safe and positive hockey experience by teaching hockey skills, educating parents and coaches and creating accountability through Fair Play. Fair Play is a program that awards teams who play within the rules and respect their opponents with a league standings Fair Play point for each game, win or lose.
Minnesota Hockey coaches and officials have, and will continue to teach skills and techniques to ensure the game is played as safely as possible. Through the mandatory USA Hockey Coaching Education Program, USA Hockey Officiating Program, clinics and materials provided by Minnesota Hockey, all coaches and officials are provided the training to accomplish these goals. More information about these programs is available at www.usahockey.com and www.minnesotahockey.org.