There has been talk in just about every rink all over the state this year about the new boarding rule that warrants an automatic 5 minute major be assessed to the player and counts against each teams' major/misconduct total for the season. The rule makes sense, how it has been implemented and the repercussions that come with it don't in the eyes of some people. Teams can not commit more than six (6) major and/or misconduct penalties in a season. If they do, the team is deemed ineligible for the CIAC Ice Hockey Tournament at their respective division. If a team is on probation they are not allowed to commit more than four (4) major and/or misconduct penalties. The idea is solely based on player safety and this is commendable. Already, since the beginning of the season the number of weekly majors called for boarding or hitting from behind has decreased. However, in my opinion, the number of six is too low given the new amendments to an old tournament rule. In the past boarding penalties were judgment calls which could warrant both a minor or a major penalty. Now, all boarding/hit from behind calls must be given a five minute major. Some officials have found their way around this by assessing phantom elbow, high stick, etc. calls in the place of the more damning boarding call. This isn't right either but the referees are quickly becoming aware of the importance of each call as tallies rise. At last count one team has six majors, two teams are at four majors and seven teams are at three. For some, we are only half way through the season. The good news as I mentioned before is since the beginning of the season, the numbers have gone down. I still don't think this is perfect though. Hockey is a fast sport and incidental contact will happen. Inexperienced refs worried about missing a big hit will miss a skater losing an edge and focus only on an ugly hit.
My suggestion is that all boarding calls are still given five minute majors on the clock but only egregious boarding calls resulting in game misconducts, any disqualifications and any other blatant disregard for player safety incidents are to count against a teams' season total. There are far too many borderline, incidental boarding penalties happening that are counting against a teams' total when there was no ill intent. In the Hamden/NDWH game this past Sunday Doug Caliendo of NDWH received a boarding major against. He hit a Hamden skater from behind in a fashion that would've warranted a two minute boarding minor in past seasons. Because of this rule, that incidental, non-malicious hit will count against the Knights' total. It's a learning season. I just hope an adjustment is made in the future. Heads up, boys.