Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Checking in Peewees

In the last year, Minnesota Hockey took the checking out of peewee hockey for safety reasons. Although the rule change makes sense, I don't agree with it. Along with everyone I know involved with the game of hockey, I grew up playing with checking in peewees. It's obvious there are kids who hit growth spurts in 5th, 6th, and 7th grade, making them much bigger than other players at the peewee level. However, there are also kids who don't hit a growth spurt until 8th, 9th, or 10th grade. In my opinion, if players aren't able to check until bantams, they won't be able to know how properly receive a check from a larger player, leaving them less prepared for high school hockey. Back when I was a peewee, it was fun learning how to check and take a check, and having the first glimpse of teammates putting a big hit on an opposing player. Now I know that all levels will adapt with this new rule, but for this year and the next couple years at the high school level there will be players who were able to check in peewees playing against younger players who did not, but after that it will be all players who were not able to check in peewees. Like I said, I understand the reasoning with the new rule to eliminate smaller players from being injured, or quitting the game like many smaller players do when  checking is allowed, but I think checking at the peewee level is crucial for success. The earlier players learn to give and receive a check, will make them a better overall player in knowing how to avoid a check, and when is the right time to play the body over playing the puck. Also, when players are bigger in bantams but still learning how to check properly, could seriously injure a smaller player, especially if the smaller player is still in the process of learning how to receive a check. Many young players skate with their heads down looking at the puck because they haven't had to learn how to skate with their heads up looking out for an opposing player to lay a check on them. By giving players two more years of non-checking hockey, it can develop bad habits such as continuing to skate with their heads down unless a coach puts emphasis on teaching them to skate with their head up. If players continue to do this, they will be setting themselves up at the bantam level to be demolished by a bigger player at center ice with their head down. I'm all for making the game safer and keeping as many kids playing the game as we can, but taking out a crucial part of the game at an earlier age could also inhibit player growth and cause more injuries.

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