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Hockey Nova Scotia the latest to introduce body checking ban

In an effort to reduce concussions and injuries Hockey Nova Scotia has moved to ban body contact for 11 and 12-year-old players. (file photo)

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Twice in a five-day span, a provincial hockey association has voted in favour of banning body checking at the peewee level.

On Sunday, Hockey Nova Scotia passed a motion eliminating body checking for 11- and 12-year-old players beginning next season. Hockey Alberta passed the same motion last Wednesday citing player safety and health concerns.

Both associations referred to medical studies, including one done by the University of Calgary that showed Alberta peewees were at three times the risk of being injured, and four times the risk of suffering a concussion, when compared to peewee players in Quebec who did not body check.

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Quebec has peewee body-checking restrictions while the Ontario Minor Hockey Association has removed it from its house league programs at all levels. B.C. does not allow body checking in various recreation leagues.

"At its core, this decision is all about the safety of our players. We have seen a great deal of evidence that body checking is the biggest risk factor when it comes to injuries and concussions in minor hockey," Hockey Nova Scotia's president Randy Pulsifer said in a news release.

Hockey Nova Scotia is also banning body checking at the bantam B and C levels (ages 13 to 14) and at midget B and C (ages 15 to 17).

"At the bantam and midget levels," Pulsifer added, "we wanted to provide non-body checking options for players who want to play the game and have fun without having to worry about the risk of injury."

Hockey Canada is currently working to introduce documents and medical data to begin discussions for a nation-wide ban on body checking among peewees. A presentation will be made to Hockey Canada's board of directors at this month's annual general meeting in Charlottetown, PEI.

Paul Carson, Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey development, will be making a formal pitch outlining the risks and after effects of young players being allowed to body check one another at a pivotal stage in their development.

Hockey Nova Scotia will be creating guidelines for coaches to better educate their players at the atom and peewee levels, teaching them how to better position themselves on the and stick check in preparation for body checking at the higher levels.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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