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USA Hockey Says No Checking For Kids Until Bantams

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There is now a big change in hockey rules for Pee Wees, which is the level for kids 11 and 12 years old.

U.S.A. Hockey has decided there will be no more checking in boys hockey games untill the Bantam level, which is for players 13 years and older.

"I think... I don't think it's a bad thing, I think it's part of the game, and if they learn to do it properly, it's a good part of the game," said Shalaine Seymore, a local hockey mom.

A concerned hockey parent said injuries are happening more often as a result of young players checking, and some can't play the game anymore because of concussions and other severe injuries.

"People are getting hurt all the time, and I know several kids who have had concussions due to checking from behind, and one or two who can't play anymore because of it," said Bob Riley, a hockey dad.

Checking, according to hockey rules, is considered body contact between opposing players. The idea is to make the player with the puck lose control of it.

The rule change only affects boy's hockey. Girls' and women's hockey is already played without checking.

Some said the elimination of checking will help kids concentrate on other skills, like skating and puck handling. Others think "proper" checking should be learned at an early age.

"But I also feel there is the danger of, now that they haven't been taught the skill and they get into Bantams, you might have Johnny who is 5 foot 2, 130 pounds, playing against Jimmy who is 6 foot 2, 210 pounds, and neither one of them have learned how to check properly or correctly, you could be asking for a little bit different result now at the Bantam level," said retired NHL Player Shjon Podein.

While at a hockey camp Tuesday, Seymore said she recognized the concern for more younger players getting hurt playing hockey, but also said it's simply part of the sport.

"You always worry about hockey injuries, it's any sport though, football, my kids play football, lacrosse, baseball, it's part of being an athlete," Seymore said.

Podein, now a high school hockey coach, also told us the speed and skill of young hockey players is amazing because they can practice all year.

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