Body Checking vs Body Contact: Is there a difference?

Please be advised that Hockey Canada has voted overwhelmingly to remove body checking from hockey at all Novice, Atom and Peewee levels including the Rep level. In addition, Upper Canada Minor Hockey League has ruled to remove body checking from all house divisions effective for the 2013-2014 season. Therefore, the only teams in SSMHA that will have body checking available will be Bantam Rep, Minor Midget Rep and Major Midget Rep. If you wish to have your child play at a level that has body checking and needs to amend their registration, please contact the registrar by September 12, 2013.

Please understand that although body checking has been removed, hockey is still a contact sport and that body contact is still permissible. There is a lot of confusion as to the difference between body checking and body contact but the two actions are not the same.

In its simplest form, body checking takes place when two players are skating towards each other and contact takes place by the defending player with the intent to remove or check the puck away from the puck carrier. This check is done usually with force and intent and is done by the shoulder, side or hip. This action may also happen if the players are skating the same direction (ie: along the boards) and the defending player makes an overt or aggressive move against the puck carrier to check him/her against the boards to remove the puck. These are the actions that are no longer permissible and will result in penalties being assessed.

Body contact, by contrast, is the normal physical contact between two players that is usually seen in the corners or in front of the net when players are battling for position. Body contact may also occur along the boards when players are skating the same direction and the defending player angles or squeezes off the skating lane of the puck carrier and there is some incidental contact between the two players. As long as the defender does make an overt or aggressive move in their movement, the contact is not considered a check and thus not penalized.

Although, the definitions of body checking and body contact have been around for a number of years, with the removal of body checking at various levels, the executive felt it would be appropriate to provide a basic reminder to everyone as to the differences. Also, the checking rules will be a focus by the referees this year, however, with changes that are this large, it is fully expected there will be growing pains from all involved and patience will be needed as we relearn the differences between body checking and body contact.

Yours in hockey,

SSMHA Executive


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