Posted at: 09/22/2012 11:51 PM
By: Katie Eldred
Ice Hockey Safety Clinic Helps Kids Stay Safe
(ABC 6 News) -- The cold weather means hockey season is just around the corner, but a rise in the number of concussions and injuries like Jack Jablonski's have put an emphasis on safety.
Saturday in Rochester the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center held their first ice hockey safety clinic.
Minnesota’s favorite pastime has long been known to be dangerous, but the increase in youth injuries is what is so alarming.
"I was going in for the puck and I got checked form behind, so I went headfirst into the boards," said Barrett Boyre.
An 8th grader, Barrett Boyre knows the dangers, she suffered a concussion earlier this summer.
"My grandma actually wants me to stop because of it, but I love the sport," said Boyre.
After Jack Jablonski was paralyzed from a hockey incident state officials changed some of the rules, including harsher penalties for checking. Working with Minnesota Hockey, the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center is hoping to prevent any more injuries.
"The rules have been changed, but we've got to make sure the players understand how to play within the framework of these new rules" said coach Hal Tearse of Minnesota Hockey.
From pee wee to high school, players were invited to participate in the first ice hockey safety clinic in Rochester.
"It's always been an issue, but we think education is the key, and that's education of coaches athletes and officials," Dr. Michael Stuart of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center.
With going into the boards being one of the most dangerous parts of the game, one of the things they are trying to teach the kids is how to hit the boards.
"We're teaching kids about body control, body contact, and were teaching them how to keep their heads up when they hit the boards," said Dr. Stuart.
"How to position themselves along the wall so they don't have an unfortunate life altering incident on the wall," said Tearse.
The players were rotated through stations including some classroom time, to learn the importance of a proper fitting helmet and once again keeping the head up when going into the boards.
"It took me away from hockey for about a month and a half," said Boyre.
A lesson Barrett Boyre will not forget.
"Heads up, definitely!"
The Mayo Sports Medicine Center is hoping to make this clinic an annual event. Minnesota hockey wants to get more clinics like this started across the state.