Minn. youth hockey votes to keep stiff penalties for illegal hits in place

Just days after the Minnesota Hockey appeared to be on the verge of overturning stiff penalties for illegal checks from behind and boarding, the sport's governing board decided on Sunday to keep the rules in place.

Jack Jablonski's jersey in the halls of Benilde-St. Margaret High School. — Jabby13.com
Jack Jablonski's jersey in the halls of Benilde-St. Margaret High School. — Jabby13.com

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Hockey's board voted 18-6 in favor of keeping the penalty for boarding at five minutes against the team. The decision came just days after the Star Tribune reported the board was going to reverse course and go back to the old penalty structure that called for two-minute penalties for boarding.

"We need to bring the rules back within the rule book," said Eric Olson, a safety committee member, told the Star Tribune "We're not going to tolerate intimidation hits."

Olson was actually one of the most outspoken members of the board last week -- he was quoted as saying, "We weren't in agreement with the changes from the beginning. We felt there was a better way to handle it but we were outvoted." -- so for him to change his tune that quickly tells you everything you need to know about the pressure the members were facing to keep the rules in place.

The tougher penalty structure was put in place earlier in the year, after Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minn.) High's Jack Jablonski was paralyzed following a check from behind into the boards.

Jablonski's father, Mike, said he was surprised to see Minnesota Hockey retain the rule.

"This will reward the teams that emphasize speed and skill and finesse," Jablonski told the Star Tribune. "This is great. You just want the kids to be safe and have a good time out there."

The good news for Minnesota youth hockey players is that the ruling means both Minnesota Hockey and the Minnesota State High School League will still have the same penalty structure in place. There's no question that kind of continuity throughout the state will be a good thing going forward.

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