Big Kid Penalties
I am looking for advice from referees on the penalties that big kids seem to attract (Atom). Some of them just seem to be unfair physics. The level of effort that would normally cause no issues, usually causes the small kid to drop when the big guy is around.
Those are just a few examples I have seen recently with a kid that is getting demoralized, and hasn't got a mean bone in him. He knows the penalties have cost games. "You just have to live with it" is getting old with him. As referees, I am sure you know what I am talking about.
Please provide some answers to / examples of:
Will preface with a comment that Atom is non contact and at the Atom level contact with the head is not tolerated, regardless of the size of the players. So let's remove playing a hard and physical game from consideration.
At the Atom level some coaches get reputations for teaching little kids how to accidently check = falling in the path and spinning other players out of control into the boards from the resulting contact. Likewise setting up a "Wall" by stopping short. Referees recognize this and call the game accordingly - answering your question about intent. If the stopping is not part of a hockey play then what was the "intent"? So that the opposition player skating into a wall was the "intent".
"big guy defensively plants and raises gloves over his face" Unless the stick was dropped he also raised at least part of the stick over his shoulders = high sticking or contact with the head since the smaller kid's head will be involved in the contact. Someone has shown an Atom how to establish a security perimeter. Not impressed.
Fighting for the puck along the boards as you describe goes to leverage. Atom kids regardless of size will stick battle for the puck but have yet to develop proper body leveraging techniques which requires contact with the other player. In sports there is the"low man wins" aspect of physics. The big kid has learned to counter this by leveraging his physical advantage "collapsing" the smaller one. Referees recognize this and call penalties.
Thanks for the response. Probably 2(B) should have been worded better. "hard and physical" was meant along the lines of "hockey requires working hard, is physically demanding, and will have some contact". My kid is a girl playing mixed hockey with "Big Kid" on her team, and big kids on other teams. I assure you I am not looking for grinder house-hockey.
What I am looking for is the tips to give him to not take avoidable and costly penalties which have cost us at least two games. Often these situations go unnoticed or at least unpenalized, but this is not the case when Big Kid is standing over a fallen player.
Head Contact - I think what you are clearly saying is that there is no such thing as incidental contact to the head. As I said, similar to "I didn't mean to cut him with my high stick". This is a problem for a taller kid, as gloves straight out do not hit gloves or chest, but rather the head. There is also usually a stick in that glove too, elevating risk. This is easy enough to tell him, he can figure out how not to do it.
Stopping in your tracks - aka The Wall.
This is Atom House. Big Kid is a second year player, not the best skater in reverse. If he gets caught flat-footed, or about to be overtaken, he stops to reach in to poke check the carrier. This usually does not end well. If the gloves come up to protect, and the stick is there... well, "you are responsible for your stick", but it will likely also be at head height now, for the double minor. I guess the key here is to make sure he is standing offset to the carrier like he is supposed to be. Mobility will hopefully come sooner than later.
The other time this contact happens is when the defense is along the boards, and the puck is coming towards him. Either two players both going at the puck, or the Dman pinching/reaching in to stop/gain the puck from the carrier. I wouldn't mind knowing the rules on this, as this is the other collision last week. Usually the kids would bounce off each other, but not with a big kid.
Also, wouldn't mind knowing, when the carrier tries to power through on the boards. If the Dman steps in front to play the puck on the boards, a collision is almost assured (at this level), whats the call? Does he have to let the carrier go by to avoid the hit, even if he gets the puck?
"He was just playing the puck", or "its not his fault he is bigger", is what we hear from parents. Sometimes they are right, it would not have been called.
Atom House League Hockey
Atom house league kids are not elite skaters or shooters so they are not going to score goals from the boards. There is no reason why a defenseman should be chasing forwards with a bit of momentum at the boards. Just looking for penalty situations.
At that level working on the players' skating is the most important aspect of coaching hockey. What often happens is that the players are shown the perpendicular angle of defense to counter the oncoming forward. See it in the NHL when defensemen like P. K. Subban miss their big hits.
They should be shown the diagonal angle which gives the defenseman more time to make the play with a recovery opportunity and less chance of a penalty. Likewise in the middle of the ice playing his side, the defensemen should be shown the diagonal angles and arcs to play puck carriers. This allows weaker skaters greater range in their coverage while avoiding penalties. Also proper stick play, extending his span and reach would help immensely.
I ref minor hockey and here are my thoughts on the issues you mentioned:
1. If the two kids are simply leaning in for the puck and there's no holding, hooking or a dip of the shoulder for an intentional check then no penalty should be called. A player should not be penalized for having better balance or being bigger and stronger. With that said, everyone is seeing things from a different perspective. The ref calls what it looks like to them.
2. There is no body checking in Atom hockey, but that doesn't mean there's no contact. Leaning on each other against the boards is fine - it's things like dipping the shoulder, shifting their weight hard and driving through with their legs that will draw a penalty. Getting the elbow up and cross checks will also draw penalties. I will not call a penalty if it looks like there's no shoulder dip/intent to check and it's just a lean where one kid is off balance or one is bigger/stronger. Some coaches/parents aren't thrilled with this and want penalties called for any board battle where a player falls down.
3. If the smaller kid in this scenario is skating with the puck and simply runs into the bigger player who is planted or even moves into his path this is not a penalty as long as the bigger player simply holds his ground and doesn't skate forward into the smaller player or dip his shoulder and shift his weight to throw a check. This can be hard to judge.
If the smaller player does not have the puck and simply runs into a bigger player who holds his ground this is also not a penalty, however; if the bigger player moves into the smaller players path intentionally then that's an interference penalty.
4. Any contact with the head will be strictly called - either unintentional or intentional. Intentional contact will simply result in a more severe penalty. You definitely have to teach the players to avoid head contact.
When the puck carrier tries to power through on the boards the defender can legally skate in front of them or lean on them against the boards. It's a fine line - you can lean, but you can't dip your shoulder and shift your weight hard as that's a body check. You can also plant along the boards or block their path as long as you don't hook, hold or get your hands or stick up. Now, if the puck goes by the defender they cannot continue to impede the progress of the attacking player (either by rubbing them out on the boards or continuing to hold their ground on the boards) - if they do then it becomes and interference penalty.
Reading all the above on a lunch break, I will read it again tonight before practice. Thank you for the responses.
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