In response to two recent hits that sent youth hockey players to the hospital, the Minnesota State High School League board of directors decided to toughen three types of penalties for hockey players, effective immediately.
Any player that checks from behind, violently checks a player into the boards, or makes contact with another player’s head or neck will now earn at least a five-minute major penalty, instead of a two-minute minor penalty.
The change means that the offending player’s team will be down a man for the duration of his penalty.
If referees determine that a player was excessive in any one of these three penalties, they must assess a game disqualification penalty along with the five-minute major.
The organization said in a statement that the move was made to “reduce and remove dangerous contact that has led to severe injuries to players.”
On Dec. 30, 16-year-old Jack Jablonski was checked from behind, headfirst into the boards. He suffered a spinal cord fracture from the hit, leaving him paralyzed.
Less than a week later, 18-year-old Jenna Privette experienced a similar check from behind and fell into the boards. She still hasn’t regained feeling in her lower body, according to a recent statement from her brother.
Both the boys’ and girls’ hockey advisory committees helped develop the recommendations that led to the strengthening of these three penalties.
The MSHSL requested permission for the changes from the National Federation of State High School Associations, which gave its approval in less than 24 hours, according to the .
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.