You may have noticed a new check box on the registration form for U15. This is regarding body checking or non-checking hockey. Hockey Alberta has encouraged all leagues in Alberta to implement non-checking (body contact only) hockey at the U15 Tier 4-6 levels. SLMHA supports the move away from body checking at the U15 Tier 4-6 levels. We believe this will encourage more players to stay in the game past the U13 level. We also see this as an opportunity for players in the Rec leagues (or players new to the game) to come play competitive hockey without the worry of body checking.
How does this impact the player?
In Sylvan Lake it means players registering for U15 have a choice to play on either team, and this choice must be indicated on your registration form. As we look at our numbers for the upcoming season, we anticipate having somewhere between 45 and 60 players register for U15. A portion of these players will play on the Tigers team, which is not impacted by this decision. Should the remaining number of registered players support two teams, then one team will play as a body checking team and the other team will possibly play non-checking. If we have three U15 teams we will review the registration numbers with request to play non-checking and checking to decide if the 2 teams will play non-checking or one non-checking and one checking. We need to know ahead of time the intentions of players to play non-checking hockey so we know how our teams will be impacted and also the tryout process will likely be revised. The U15 Director will work with players and coaches at the time of tryouts to find the best fit teams. But as you might be able to foresee, there will be decisions about where to draw the line for the A team, based on whether players are willing to play body checking hockey. SLMHA will not force players to play body checking hockey if they don’t want. For that reason, we will revise the tryout process for the A team to only include those that accept to play with body checking so please do not tryout for the A team if you do not want to play body checking hockey.
We understand parents will have questions about the implementation of this rule change. We have assembled a set of frequently asked questions to help you learn more about this change. In addition, you can refer to Hockey Alberta’s bulletins regarding Non-Checking Hockey at the following link:
What is non-checking hockey?
This is the most common question we’ve heard. Body Checking is “an attempt by a player to gain an advantage on the opponent with the use of the body. Body checking results when two opposing players collide while skating in opposite directions or when positioning and angling allow the checker to use the force of the body to gain the advantage.” Body Contact is “incidental contact of two opposing players travelling in the same direction in pursuit of the puck or position on the ice. Body contact occurs as a result of movement by the offensive player.
If my player was on the A team last year but wants to play non-checking hockey does that mean they won’t play on as good a team?
We believe a number of “A” level players will choose to play non-checking hockey this year, leading to a more competitive “B” team. The Central Alberta Hockey League has contemplated this and will set up the tiering process to allow these more competitive “B” teams to be tiered with like skilled teams. So the idea that the hockey won’t be as good should not be a concern for players choosing non-checking hockey. Hockey Alberta is even operating a Provincial Championship for Tier 4 this year.
If our home association does not have a team can we come to Sylvan Lake? Hockey Alberta has encouraged Minor Hockey Associations to work together to allow options for players to find the type of hockey that best suits their choice. We anticipate a number of players coming from Eckville and Bentley areas to take advantage of this non-checking opportunity. While we never want to eliminate options for players, SLMHA has to recognize our own limits regarding ice availability and resources, and as such we must advise that player movements from other associations will be limited to our ability to accommodate a maximum of 20 players per team.
To Register for U15 Non-Checking Hockey:
- Visit our Registration 2023-2024
- Select U15 Non-Checking, Body Contact ONLY, Tier 4-6