Body­check­ing a moot point in women's hockey

Play­ers say things are fine just the way they are

The Province - - SPORTS - DAR­REN ZARY dzary@post­media.com

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.”

— THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Canada’s Halli Krzyza­niak knocks down Bri­anna Decker of the U.S. dur­ing Four Na­tions Cup pre­lim­i­nary play in Saska­toon on Wed­nes­day.

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