By Dave Zednik, IHOA Registrar
QUESTION: What degree of force is necessary to be considered to be thrown dangerously into the boards?
ANSWER: For USA Hockey youth games, the onus is on the player delivering the check to not place the opponent in danger. The purpose of a body check is to separate the opponent from the puck. Anytime a player delivers a check for the purpose of intimidating or punishing the opponent, and therefore causes the opponent to be driven excessively into the boards (uses the boards to punish the opponent), a boarding penalty must be assessed. The degree of force with which a checked player contacts the boards varies. A more practical question may be “was the check necessary and/or what was the vulnerability of the player being checked?” For example, a boarding penalty may be assessed when a player in a vulnerable position is unnecessarily hit with sufficient force to be thrown dangerously into the boards. In contrast, a penalty may not be warranted when a player is hit much harder, but his preparedness for the hit causes him to go only mildly into the boards. USA Hockey is not eliminating a good, hard and clean check. However, players must be aware of the situation when delivering a check and then held accountable for taking “liberties” and therefore endangering an opponent.