May 15, 2019 7:01 pm
Updated: May 17, 2019 8:49 pm

Bodychecking banned from lower levels of minor hockey in Regina and Saskatoon

WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan’s two largest minor hockey associations have decided to remove bodychecking from the lower tiers of bantam and midget. Brenden Purdy reports.

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Hockey Regina and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) have decided that bodychecking will no longer be permitted in the bantam B and midget B levels of play.

The main reason for the decision is to keep kids playing the sport.

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It’s all been positive feedback to date, according to SMHA executive director Kelly Boes.

The collective decision, announced on May 10, was based on the success of similar changes made by neighbouring minor hockey associations (MHAs).

“Been watching how this type of change has played out at Hockey Winnipeg, Hockey Calgary and Hockey Edmonton — they have had bodychecking out of their lower levels of bantam and midget since 2015 and 2016,” Boes said Wednesday.

“It has been very well received there from a safety perspective and retention of players.”

Bodychecking will only be allowed in Hockey Regina and SMHA for the bantam AA, bantam A, midget AAA, midget AA and midget A players.

Most injuries in bantam and midget hockey occur because of bodychecking, according to SMHA officials.

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“Our province has always been a strong proponent on including bodychecking in the game,” Saskatchewan Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock said on Wednesday, “but also that we make it mandatory for at least one coach on every team from novice to midget to have taken a ‘checking’ coaching course which includes how to teach bodychecking.

“Notwithstanding that, each of these MHAs have had non-body checking/recreational programming for players that wish that for many years.”

The 2019-20 season will begin in the third week of October for most SMHA leagues, while Hockey Regina starts Oct. 15-23.

The two MHAs are the largest in the province and have a total of 6,516 players and 424 teams.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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