I'll start by apologizing for the lack of a true recap of this weekend's action. It was almost done when I went to copy something into the blog and it magically crashed and deleted my entire post.
I was going to put this on to the end of the recap, but instead I'll write a dedicated post on the blow to the head penalty.
At 8:33 of the third period, Marc-Andre Carre received a blow to the head penalty (2 minutes, 10 misconduct). My issue is not with him receiving a penalty on the play as I said on my broadcast I felt he could have earned a charging call. Both Josh Lewis (my colour commentator on the evening) and I felt principle point of contact was the body, though the head was contacted later in the collision and impacted the glass.
Here's the rule as stated in Section 1 of the Jr. A Supplement:
REGULATION 1 – BLOWS TO THE HEAD
The following situations shall be subject to suspension:
1.1 Illegal Act: If a player is fouled or hit illegally, for which a penalty is being assessed, and as a result hits his head on the glass, ice or the boards and is injured, this shall be construed as a Blow to the Head and a major and game misconduct or match penalty shall be assessed.
• Major Penalty – minimum 2 game suspension.
• Match Penalty – minimum 3 game suspension.
1.2 Direct Blow to the Head: If a player raises his stick, hands, forearm or elbow to hit an opponent in the head area, or deliberately drives his stick, forearm, elbow or gloved hand into the player’s head in any manner, it shall be called a Blow to the Head and shall receive a minor and 10 minute misconduct, or a major and game misconduct, or match penalty.
• Minor Penalties – a player upon receiving his 3rd minor penalty for hit to the head shall result in a 2 game suspension and a 2 game suspension for each subsequent minor in the same season.
• Major Penalty – automatic minimum 2 game suspension.
• Match Penalty – automatic minimum 3 game suspension.Junior A Supplement – Players Handbook Page 8
You'll notice that the hit doesn't really fit into either of these descriptions. Sure it could slide into the the Illegal Act section, but that's reserved for injuries and the Bruins player wasn't injured on the play. It also wasn't a direct blow to the head based on the lack of 'shoulder' in the wording. I mention that because it would be entirely possible for the referee to see the play differently than I did and deem the head the principle point of contact. So how does it become a penalty?
I find the wording of the rules around head hits a little ambiguous, so I went to the SJHL's Director of Officiating, Tracy Cook for some help. Tracy provided me with some extra reading from Hockey Canada that helps clear things up.
The Head Contact penalty is based on the “degree of violence of impact” and can be defined in three categories: minimal, moderate and severe.
Minimal impact would be called under other appropriate rules. e.g. elbowing, highsticking, roughing, roughing after the whistle, etc. A glancing blow or minimal impact to the head where a penalty is warranted.
Moderate impact would be a more significant degree of violence without injury that warrants a Minor and Misconduct penalty under the Head Contact rule.
Severe impact would be a high degree of violence, with or without injury, that warrants a Major and Game Misconduct or a Match penalty, at the discretion of the Referee under the Head Contact rule.
This all fits in with Rule 6.5 in the Hockey Canada Rulebook:
Rule 6.5 – Head Contact
(a) In minor hockey and female hockey, a minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who accidentally contacts an opponent in the head, face or neck with his stick or any part of the player’s body or equipment.
(b) In minor hockey and female hockey, a double minor penalty or a major and a game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the referee and based on the degree of violence of impact shall be assessed to any player who intentionally contacts an opponent in the head, face or neck with her stick or any part of the player’s body or equipment.
(c) In junior hockey and senior hockey, a minor and a misconduct penalty, or a major and a game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the referee based on the degree of violence of impact, shall be assessed to any player who checks an opponent in the head in any manner.
(d) A major and a game misconduct penalty, or a match penalty shall be assessed any player who injures an opponent under this rule.
(e) A match penalty shall be assessed any player who deliberately attempts to injure or deliberately injures an opponent under this rule.
Note: All contact above the shoulders (neck, face and head) is to be called Head Contact under one of the above (In minor hockey and female hockey).
How does this all fit in with the example from Saturday's contest? Based on these clarifications and rules, the on-ice official felt the collision was violent enough to warrant the "Moderate Impact" moniker and therefore the two minute minor and ten minute misconduct assessed to Carre.
So that clears up some things around the rules, but not others. Why was this example called "Blow to the Head" instead of "Head Contact"? Is "Head Contact" even an available call for the referees or is it included in "Blow to the Head" despite the lack of wording? The extra reading may have introduced more questions than it answered... questions I'll try to answer this week in an interview with the Director of Officials. Listen for the yet-to-be recorded interview, Friday, when the Ice Wolves take on the Melfort Mustangs.