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Patch Poll: Should Body-Checking Be Allowed In Boys High School Hockey?

Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore Jack Jablonski was paralyzed by a hit from behind, putting a renewed focus on checking rules in Minnesota high school hockey.

The severe injury suffered by hockey player Jack Jablonski has the Minnesota hockey community taking a closer look at the role of body-checking in the sport.

Jablonski, a 16-year-old sophomore, was checked from behind and into the boards during a junior varsity game on Dec. 30 against Wayzata. The hit left Jablonski paralyzed. He had surgery on Wednesday at the Hennepin County Medical Center, and though family members said it was a "success," the prognosis is that Jablonski .

Woodbury Patch blogger Aaron Johnson weighed in on the news earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota State High School League sent a memo to all hockey coaches, referees and league officials, reiterating the dangers of checking from behind, which is illegal.

“For nearly a decade the MSHSL has identified the reduction and removal of checking from behind as a major point of emphasis for coaches, officials and hockey players,” the memo read in part. “High school coaches, officials and student-athletes all have an essential and continuing role in helping to remove this type of contact from games and practices.”

Coaches were also encouraged to remind their players daily to not check from behind. In Minnesota high school hockey, checking from behind draws either a 10-minute penalty or a game disqualification, depending on the severity of the hit. The Wayzata player who checked Jablonski on Friday was disqualified from that game.

General body-checking, however, is legal in Minnesota boys high school hockey. Craig Perry, the associate director of boys hockey for the MSHSL, said checking and contact rules are reviewed on an annual basis, first by the state Coaches Advisory Committee, then by the National Federation of High Schools. State coaches are meeting for this purpose next week, with the national federation meeting in the spring.

Minnesota girls high school hockey already bans checking entirely, and there has been some movement away from checking in the USA Hockey youth ranks. The USA Hockey governing board has bumped the legal checking age from 12-and-under (Pee Wee) to 14-and-under (Bantam).

boys hockey coach Shjon Podein said he was originally , but reversed his view after doing some research on concussions among young athletes. Now, after seeing the hit on Jablonski, Podein said he would be willing to at least consider taking checking out of boys high school hockey.

“I’d be 100 percent behind researching it,” he said. “You say to yourself, ‘Are we doing everything we can to protect (the players)?’”

gene roth January 06, 2012 at 03:47 AM
It is time to go back to the rules in the 40's,50's and early 60's. Checking was allowed only by the defensive team in the defensive zone. Center ice, both teams could fore check and when in the offensive zone the offense could fore check. There was no more then three strides before a check. These kids have a whole life ahead of them and very few will play beyond high school. There are far to many serious injury's in hockey today. It isn,t about skating anymore but about who can have the best goon's. The state high school league needs to change the rules,not matter how politically unpopular.
gene roth January 06, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Totally agree. Until, a parent experiences a disabling to their child then their thinking changes about the violence in sports.
38 YEAR WDBY RESIDENT January 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Checking is a part of the game, checking from behind is not allowed, players in all sports can be seriously injured, tragically this young was severely injured and discussion on how to prevent it brings out a lot of good, banning checking would not solve the problem, enforcing the rules already in place would help.
Margaret Wachholz January 07, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Heidi, your comment left me with nightmares all night and painful thoughts for Jack & the family. I cannot imagine being laid up a day! Thanks Michael for writing. I don't know anything about the sport -what a awful ordeal for any family to face. Anyone wishing to help Jack's family can send donations to the Jack Jablonski Fund, P.O.Box 16387, St. Louis Park, MN 55416-2618. You can also make a donation at any Wells Fargo Bank. Mention the Jack Jablonski Fund.
gene roth January 07, 2012 at 02:25 AM
No one knows how many concussion,how many cracked vertebrae, how many debilitating knee injuries etc. have occurred this in high school hockey. I for one have a nephew who suffered from a head injury for 6 monthes.The list goes on and on but know one does anything. All hockey players have stop on the back of their jerseys but it still goes on. I believe the old rules worked and there still was checking.

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