Quesnel and District Minor Hockey Association held a checking clinic this week (Aug 27-30) at the West Fraser Centre.
The clinic was opened to all Bantam- and Midget-aged players who are planning on trying out for the rep team.
No body checking is allowed in minor hockey before the age of 13, so the classes allowed the kids to get a feel for what it is like, before they enter game mode.
“Lots of them haven’t played contact hockey before, so this allows them to get a taste before tryouts next week,” says Bantam coach Gary Salmons, who has been coaching many of the kids since they first started getting ice time.
“It gives them an opportunity to protect themselves more than anything,” he continues.
“And it makes a huge difference. You get rid of those butterflies by getting bumped around early, so it’s not your first time when you show up for tryouts.”
Salmons adds the clinic is a safe environment for them to get used to the jostling.
The young players got a chance to scrimmage and practised a number of drills which involved giving and receiving checks along the boards.
There was a noticeable lack of Scott Stevens-esque open-ice hits, however.
“We talk more about avoiding the open-ice contact now,” says Salmons.
“It’s not like it used to be. Body contact is still a part of the game, but it’s just a small part of the game.
“We teach them more about protecting themselves, [checking] correctly and respecting their opponents. That’s really what it’s about.”
Mike Ernst, the general manager for the Bantams, explains: “It doesn’t matter how big, how strong or how fast you are, you get run over, you get caught.
“We just try our best to prepare them for that.”