Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Way to End Hockey Fights Youth Hockey in British Columbia Gives Points to Teams That Aren'tpenalized for Rough Play

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Way to End Hockey Fights Youth Hockey in British Columbia Gives Points to Teams That Aren'tpenalized for Rough Play

Article excerpt

Canadians may be polite and understated. They may take turns at four-way stop signs. (Well, OK, not always, but often.) They may have a foreign minister who preaches the virtues of "soft power" in diplomacy. But hockey lets them demonstrate without a doubt that they are not wimps.

So much so, in fact, that as young players keep getting bigger, stronger, and faster on the ice, concerns about rough play and injuries have whizzed more into view. Parents are thinking twice about letting their kids get involved.

To address this, the youth hockey organization here has come up with a simple innovation that just might repeal the rule that "nice guys finish last." It's called the sportsmanship point system. Each team that completes a game without exceeding a certain number of minutes in the penalty box picks up an extra point. The system has been in place for several years in the recreational "C" leagues of the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA), the umbrella organization for the 19,400 young hockey players in British Columbia's Lower Mainland (Vancouver and exurbs). This year the system has been introduced in the competitive "A" and "B" leagues for the first time. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the extra point is making for cleaner play. Hockey organizations elsewhere in Canada have expressed interest in the system, too. On a Saturday at the Richmond Ice Centre, a suburban temple of hockey not far from the Vancouver airport, the word is that coaches and players are mindful of the opportunity to pick up the extra point. Jeff Green, in his first year as coach of an "Atom" team, an age class for 10- and 11-year-olds, says the sportsmanship point "definitely" makes a difference. "However young they are, they want to win," he says. "They know that if they play clean, the extra point gives them a faster, easier way of reaching that goal. It's a lot different from what I was brought up with in Nova Scotia. Back then, the ultimate way to win was to make sure the other team couldn't skate." George Kilpatrick, another Atom coach, says, "If {the sportsmanship point} means something to the coach, then it means something to the kids. …

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