BC Hockey is making full-face protection mandatory for all Junior B players in the province, set to come into effect for the 2018/19 season.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is affected by the announcement along with the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL), and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). The Fort St. John Huskies and Dawson Creek Junior Canucks are also affected as the two BC teams play in the North West Junior Hockey League.
“BC Hockey is proud to be recognized as a leader in risk management initiatives, and player safety is at the forefront of our program planning,” said Barry Petrachenko in a press release, Chief Executive Officer with BC Hockey. “Our game is faster than it has ever been, and as a result, we face increased challenges and responsibilities relative to safety. We are confident that through this initiative facial and dental injuries will be greatly reduced.”
“This decision is part of BC Hockey’s mandate to provide a safe environment for our players to develop,” added BC Hockey Junior Coordinator, Phil Iddon. “Players can play more confidently without fear of facial or dental injury as a result of a play. This is a big and positive step for BC Hockey, the game and player safety.”
BC Hockey heard "staggering" statistics at the 2017 Hockey Canada Winter Congress where Todd Jackson, Insurance and Risk Management Director with Hockey Canada reported on facial and dental injuries for players wearing half visors compared to full-face protection.
Between 2010 and 2015 BC Hockey heard from the report that 378 dental injuries were reported to Hockey Canada and only eight were suffered by those with full-face protection rather than a half visor.
Under the Hockey Canada Insurance Program, Junior B teams will also see a 71 percent reduction in premiums following the move to full-face protection, as the rate will fall from 45 dollars to 10 dollars per player.
According to BC Hockey, they are continuing their work with the BCHL and the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) to make player safety a continuing priority.
At the Junior A level in the BCHL, approximately five percent of players wear full-face protection, but the BCHL is not affected by the recent full-face announcement.
"BC Hockey Junior B players who affiliate with Junior A teams will be required to wear full-face protection during their play at that level," added BC Hockey in the release.
- Bradley Jones / with files from BC Hockey