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National prep organization adopts Minnesota's tougher checking-from-behind rules

By David La Vaque, Star Tribune, 05/20/14, 8:47AM CDT


After a previous attempt never reached a vote, the national group that oversees high school sports has adopted standards set in Minnesota after Jack Jablonski’s life-changing spinal cord injury.

Jack Jablonski

Minnesota high school hockey’s tougher penalties for checking from behind and boarding have been approved as a national standard.

Attempting to deter the types of dangerous hit that left Benilde-St. Margaret’s Jack Jablonski with a spinal cord injury, Minnesota made unprecedented changes during the 2011-12 season. Both hits were enhanced to 5-minute major penalties, plus a 10-minute misconduct for checking from behind anywhere on the ice.

Those same penalties were announced at the new national standard for boys’ and girls’ hockey on Tuesday by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The changes begin with the 2014-15 season.

If denied by the NFHS, Minnesota would have either followed what were more lenient national rules on boarding and checking from behind or go its own way and lose valuable representation on the NFHS ice hockey rules committee.

A previous attempt to use Minnesota’s tougher penalties nationwide never got to a vote by the 10-person committee.

The NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee increased the penalty for boarding (Rule 6-4-1) to an automatic major. Previously, it was only a major for a flagrant violation of the rule.

The NFHS Rule Committee also changed Rule 6-7-1 to state that a check from behind in open ice will now be a major penalty instead of a minor and misconduct.

Dan Schuster, who oversees ice hockey for the NFHS, said in a press release that by increasing the penalties for boarding and checking from behind, the committee wanted to make it clear that this type of dangerous play has no place in high school ice hockey.

The rule changes were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations at its April 28-29 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

According to the 2012-13 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, a total of 35,198 boys participated in ice hockey in 1,601 schools and 17 states. An additional 9,447 girls participated in the sport at 608 schools.

David La Vaque • 612-673-7574

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