Full face protection won’t take away from the intensity of the junior B game, says Aldergrove Kodiaks general manager and assistant coach Rick Harkins. Kurt Langmann Black Press

Full face protection for junior B hockey next season ‘a good thing’ says Kodiaks GM

Rick Harkins likes move, saying it will protect the players while eliminating fighting

Aldergrove Kodiaks associate coach and general manager Rick Harkins has no problem with junior B hockey players being mandated to wear full face protection, starting next season.

Actually, he supports the move.

“Everything nowadays comes (down) to litigation and insurance, so now we’ll save thousands (of dollars) on dental coverage on these kids,” said Harkins, who is on the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s steering committee.

“It’s a good thing.”

In a memorandum sent this week to BC Hockey’s Junior Committee, Chief Executive Officer Barry Petrachenko stated the BC Hockey board of directors “has mandated that full face protection is required by all BC Hockey Junior B players starting for the 2018-2019 season.”

The requirement will go into effect in the PJHL, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), and two B.C. teams in the North West Junior Hockey League (Fort St. John Huskies and the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks).

It also covers the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) — where the Peninsula Panthers in North Saanich have already adopted the change this season.

The change will not be implemented at the Junior A level in B.C., or in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

• SEE RELATED STORY HERE

Hawkins believes this new rule will all but eliminate fighting in the PJHL, in line with the direction the league has been moving towards, anyway.

“If you (take your helmet off to fight), you’ll get a major, major suspension,” Harkins said. “Probably a minimum of six games, sort of thing. It’s going to deter the fighting in the game.”

Harkins noted that if PJHL players dropped the gloves in the last 10 minutes of a game, they are slapped with a game suspension.

“We’ve tried to take it (fighting) out of our league for quite a few years now, and the product on the ice has improved immensely,” Harkins said.

When Harkins first got involved with the junior B loop, the game at that level was known as “jungle B.”

“Now people come out and are entertained,” he said. “Now they see a lot of skill. The skill and development of these players has gone through the roof now that they’ve cut down on the fighting. We’re always trying to improve the game and the safety of the game for these kids, and the entertainment value for our fans.”

So far, every change the PJHL has made in recent years has turned out to be a very good decision for the game, in Harkins’ opinion.

“It’s going to be a change for a lot of kids, because the kids always look forward to coming out of minor hockey where they could wear a half visor,” Harkins said.

They were happy, he pointed out, “until they had to have their teeth replaced or have a scar on their face.”

Trappers coach weighs in

Langley Trappers associate coach and assistant GM Brad Bakken has lost teeth playing at the junior level, so in that respect, he says he “definitely understands why (junior B hockey) is moving towards this.”

Bakken said the goal is to save costs on players’ dental bills while making sure they have all of their teeth once their junior B career comes to an end.

Bakken lost the front row of his teeth playing for the BCHL’s Langley Chiefs in 2008 and three of his bottom teeth in 2007 playing for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

Even so, he says he is an “old school guy” who likes the feel of having made the transition from minor hockey to junior, and losing the full face protection in favour of the half visor in the process.

“But I know it will do a lot of good for the safety of players; it will change the game and it might make the game even faster,” Bakken acknowledged.

Bakken also pointed out that the PJHL is a developmental league and a pathway to the BCHL and, possibly, the NCAA college ranks where full face protection is also mandatory, so in that sense, he feels it will be a natural progression.

Just Posted

United voice calls for more senior services in Aldergrove

‘The people here deserve more’ says founder of the local Seniors Resource Fair

Aldergrove’s water park opens to public at discounted rates

Though the pool remains closed, the Township has decided to charge a toonie for admission

Fraser Valley pup trained in Aldergrove co-stars in A Dog’s Journey

Film premiers this weekend, starting Friday in Canadian theatres

Homeless woman unsuccessful in lawsuit against government

A Langley homeless woman tried to sue Victoria and Ottawa

Sea of purple showed support for Langley school’s ALS fundraiser

Students and staff were inspired to fundraise by the plight of a teacher living with ALS.

Jeep totalled, four young people in hospital, after single-vehicle crash in Surrey

Mounties have not ruled out any possible factors in what led to the overnight crash

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Cloverdale Rodeo competition promises to be a ‘nail-biter’ this weekend

New challengers giving returning champions a run for their money

Most Read