There’s no question that invitational tournaments are highlights of the youth hockey season. Hotel stays, team dinners, pool time and facing teams from other areas of the state all play a factor.
While fun for kids and parents alike, there is room for improvement. A study of a Junior Gold tournament in Minnesota produced results that indicate invitational tournaments could reduce penalties and injuries by introducing a fair-play system. This would increase the amount of enjoyment at the tournaments as fewer players would be exposed to the negative impacts associated with missing playing time due to penalties or injury.
The researchers conducted the study by surveying each game of the tournament in which the qualifying round (pool play) used a fair-play point system and the championship round (bracket format) used standard playing rules.
The results displayed glaring differences in the style of play. During the championship round, there was a significant rise in both minor and major injures, increasing the rate of injury by four and five times, respectively. The number of penalties per game escalated as well, nearly doubling in comparison with the qualifying round.
Minnesota Hockey’s Hockey Education Program (HEP) responded to those findings by including the following recommendations for invitational tournaments in the development of our Fair Play program.
In the event of a tie at the end of regulation play, if one of the tied teams has earned their Fair Play point and the other team has not, the team having earned the Fair Play point will be designated the winner of the game. If both teams have earned their Fair Play point or both teams have not earned their Fair Play point, the next tiebreaker will be determined by the tournament. This shall apply to all games except the final “Championship” game.
Round Robin Format
Pool play standings will be determined by including the Fair Play point along with any other points awarded in pool play including points for a win or a tie.
The Minnesota Hockey HEP and Tournament Committees strongly encourage all invitational tournaments to incorporate Fair Play into their tournament rules. Fair Play supports a positive playing environment that can contribute to the exciting atmosphere at invitational tournaments.
Fair-Play Rules and Injury Reduction in Ice Hockey
By: William O. Roberts, MD, MS; Janny Dwyer Brust, MPH; Barbara Leonard, RN, PhD; Brian J. Hebert
Printed in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine