Starting at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, all Junior B hockey players in B.C. will be required to wear full-face protection, says B.C. Hockey.
While aiming to improve player safety, this enforcement means that visors will no longer be an option for Junior B hockey players.
B.C. Hockey says through this initiative, they are confident that facial and dental injuries will be greatly reduced.
“Our game is faster than it has ever been, and, as a result, we face increased challenges and responsibilities relative to safety,” said B.C. Hockey CEO Barry Petrochenko.
This change will affect 42 teams across B.C., including the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League [KIJHL].
Fernie Ghostriders head coach Craig Mohr says he isn’t a fan of the future change, and says his players aren’t happy either.
“I tell ya what, our players are livid,” he said.
Mohr says he wasn’t consulted about the change before the announcement was made.
“They didn’t consult any of the member clubs,” he said. “I know I definitely didn’t get a phone call about it, no one in our league did.”
He does agree that with the cages, the number of dental cases will go down. However, with this, he addressed the possibility that other forms of aggression will increase.
“Are high hits going to come up, is the slashing of the wrists or the high sticks all going to come up?” he questioned.
“You play different when you put a visor on, you are definitely less reckless. You have a full cage on, it’s just inevitable that you’re going to play more reckless.”
He also questioned why B.C. Hockey chose just Junior B hockey for the new regulations, rather than all levels of Junior hockey. On top of this, Mohr says that according to numbers released at the B.C. Hockey Annual General Meeting, Junior A hockey teams incur more dental injuries per year than Junior B teams, despite there being 100 more Junior B teams in Canada.
“There’s more cases in Junior A, why are they hitting up Junior B?” asked Mohr.
Aside from player aggression and injury counts, coach Mohr is concerned the introduction of a mandatory full-face protection rule will damage their recruitment numbers from the Prairies. He believes wearing a cage could be the deciding factor for many kids considering trading into B.C.