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High school hockey players are now required to wear neck guards

High school hockey players are now required to wear neck guards


The mandate comes after Minnesota native Adam Johnson was cut on the neck by a skate during a match in England last October.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. All high school hockey players are now required to wear neck guards when they take the ice this winter.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSA) announced the rule change Thursday after it was proposed at its annual rules meeting last month. The mandate comes after Minnesota native Adam Johnson was cut on the neck by a skate during a match in England last October. Johnson later died from the cut, prompting several leagues around the world to adopt a policy requiring neck guards.

USA Hockey updated its policy in January, but the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) said it “follows the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations.” MSHSL executive director Erich Martens said in a statement: “Should the NFHS approve the neck tear protection requirement, the league will implement that requirement here in Minnesota.” On Thursday, the MSHSL confirmed that it accepts the new policy.

Now that the rule has been accepted by the NFHS Board of Directors, it will go into effect this winter.

The Minnesota State High School League believes that risk minimization and the health and safety of all student participants are imperative,” the MSHSL said in a statement. “Historically, the League has strongly recommended neck tear protectors in hockey, and the Leagues Sports Medicine Advisory Committee fully supports this change to the NFHS rules. This rule change aligns the Federation and League safety measures with other governing bodies, such as USA Hockey, to ensure the health and safety of all participants.

If a player does not have a neck guard or removes it during play, the player will be sent to the bench until he puts the guard back on, according to the NFHS. If the player refuses to wear the neck protector, play will be stopped and he will be assessed a two-minute minor penalty. The neck guard is also included as one of the equipment items that results in an automatic stoppage of play.

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