SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Broken noses, chipped teeth and fists to the face have always been a part of hockey, but not anymore for the Cumberland Blues.
A new rule mandating full-face shields comes into effect this upcoming season for all Nova Scotia Junior B and Junior C hockey players.
“As a parent, it’s great because it was only a matter of time before Mats got knocked out, because he’ll stand up for anybody on his team,” Joel Stone said. “And now he won’t get knocked out because he has a cage on. He’s not going to take that magic punch to the jaw.”
Stone’s twin boys, Mats and Nate, play for the Cumberland Blues, and he likes the fact his kids will no longer have their faces altered.
“Mats has come home from hockey games where he took a shot to the beak and his nose was twisted out of shape. I don’t ever have to worry about that again,” Stone said. “And Last year they both had chipped teeth from sticks, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore either.”
Hockey Canada implemented the new rule, which will be adopted by all Canadian teams by August of 2020.
Blues president Doug Williams says all 11 teams in the NSJHL got together and decided to adopt the rules one year in advance.
“Each team pays Hockey Nova Scotia an annual insurance rate of $3,500, and that rate has been cut down substantially because, obviously, eye injuries, teeth injuries, and facial injuries aren’t going to happen as much as it does with the open face-mask,” Williams said.
He says the insurance rate will be cut down by about $2,000.
“Also, Hockey Canada has put an incentive to each province saying that if you do it this year they will supplement each team with $1,000, so not only is your money going to go down for insurance, but we also get $1,000 towards buying the full-face mask.”
Because his kids wore hockey masks throughout their minor hockey career, Stone thinks they will easily adapt to the new rule and, although he is pleased with the added protection, he says the new rule will have drawbacks.
“The stick work is going to be out of control because, previously, if it got out of hand and both parties were willing, they’d fight. Now there’s no outlet, so there’s going to be a lot of spears and a lot of hacking,” he said. “It will be greasier hockey because players who chip away with their sticks and don’t drop the gloves won’t be held accountable anymore.”
Blues training camp starts Sept. 7, at 1 p.m., and continues throughout the week.
“We hope to have an exhibition game on Sept. 13, and we open our season at home on Sept. 20,” Williams said.