Bodychecking a moot point in women's hockey
Players say things are fine just the way they are
SASKATOON — Team Canada power forward Natalie Spooner smiles and chuckles about the thought of full body contact in women’s hockey, if it ever were to be allowed.
But she may be an exception to the rule.
“I’m a big person so I don’t mind,” the 5-foot-10, 180pound Spooner says with a laugh. “There are some smaller girls out there, but who knows? It would be a bit of a transition if bodychecking were to come in, (but) I’m good either way.”
Consensus among Four Nations Cup participants is to keep the game as it is.
“I mean, (bodychecking) is there, in a way,” Team Canada’s captain Marie-Philip Poulin says. “Along the boards it can get physical, but I think if we go open-ice, we’ll get away from the women’s game and take away from what we bring: The skill, the hockey sense and everything. We want to keep growing the game in that sense.”
United States team forward Brianna Decker doesn’t see a need for change.
“I like the way it is now,” Decker says. “They let us get away with a decent amount (of body contact). It’s a physical game — that’s what is fun about women’s hockey. They still let a lot of that go, but I don’t have too much of an opinion on it, to be honest.”
Bob Corkum, head coach of the U.S. squad and a former NHLer, doesn’t want to see full-out hitting, but admits he likes a little bit of physicality to the game.
“There’s plenty of bumping and grinding that goes on out there,” he says. “There’s certainly plenty of strength going on out there and people leaning on each other and I think it’s great for the game and a great way to play.”
Team Canada forward Rebecca Johnston says she really didn’t face a lot of bodychecking growing up, just a little bit when she played boys’ hockey. Yet, the women’s game is far from innocent and not purely finesse.
“It is pretty physical, as you can tell watching,” Johnston says. “I’m so used to the way it’s played now. It’s already rough enough that I don’t think we need (full body contact).”
The last word goes to former Team Canada head coach Melody Davidson, now head scout for the national team.
“I think the bodychecking point is moot any more. Anybody who’ll see the (medal) games this weekend will see that our game is very similar to the men’s now.”
Canada’s Halli Krzyzaniak knocks down Brianna Decker of the U.S. during Four Nations Cup preliminary play in Saskatoon on Wednesday.