Mid­get hockey is miss­ing some­thing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/ pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca.

There is no other way to say it, so let’s just get it over with.

Hockey New­found­land and Labrador got it wrong when it comes to body check­ing and mid­get hockey.

There is no sugar coat­ing. There is no maybe if they had of tried this it would have worked. The higher ups of the or­ga­ni­zaiton made a mis­take in re­mov­ing body check­ing from one of the high­est lev­els of hockey we have to of­fer our young ath­letes.

Now, I know I’ve writ­ten in this space that the sport could sur­vive with­out the body check­ing. But, that was be­fore I had the chance to watch a game of mid­get hockey.

You know what, I got it wrong too.

I still be­lieve that ban­tam hockey may be able to sur­vive with­out body check­ing, but at the mid­get level it just can’t.

Prior to the start of this sea­son, HNL re­moved body check­ing from all mid­get and ban­tam leagues out­side of teams ranked in the A di­vi­sion, AAA, high school and ma­jor mid­get di­vi­sions. That leaves all other play­ers out in the cold.

What we have are play­ers who are play­ing high school hockey that are be­ing asked to move from an en­vi­ron­ment where there is body check­ing to one where there isn’t. That ad­just­ment can’t be easy.

In plays where they’d be re­quired to fin­ish their checks or pun­ish a player mov­ing through the neu­tral zone with their head down, they can’t do it. They’re forced to hold up and that just hurts the game.

To be frank, it just isn’t pretty hockey. There is lit­tle life to the game, as play­ers ap­pear to be go­ing through the mo­tions more than any­thing.

The ones who can skate ex­cel, but the ones who strug­gle to move their feet are left be­hind. Maybe they would strug­gle in an ac­tual hockey game, but phys­i­cal play can be an equal­izer.

Cheap shots with the stick and body are go­ing to climb as play­ers strug­gle with new rules that, when you look at it, could lead to more in­juries for play­ers. Player safety was one of the pil­lars HNL built its de­ci­sion on.

Body check­ing al­lowed mid­get play­ers to let out their frus­tra­tions with other play­ers in a way that could ben­e­fit that game. I’m not talk­ing about the take-a-run at the guy play, but the clean body check to let your op­po­nent know you’re there.

It was a way for play­ers to po- lice the game by them­selves in an ef­fec­tive man­ner. It was a way for play­ers to get them­selves hyped on the bench.

It was good for the fans. brought life to the rink.

HNL pledged to take an­other look at the is­sue prior to next sea­son. Let’s hope they do.

Make no bones about it, there is some­thing miss­ing from mid­get hockey.


It was a way for play­ers to po­lice the game by them­selves in an ef­fec­tive man­ner.

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