NewsState

Actions

Hockey community gives insights into USA Hockey neck guard mandate

USA Hockey, the national governing body for thousands of players nationwide will mandate neck guards for some of its players. The organization made the announcement Sunday.
Posted at 11:35 AM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 12:35:31-05

MILWAUKEE — USA Hockey, the national governing body for thousands of players nationwide will mandate neck guards for some of its players. The organization made the announcement Sunday.

It comes after hockey player Adam Johnson died from getting cut in the neck by a skate back in October.

Come August 1st, 2024, some youth hockey players will have to use neck laceration protection if they want to get out on the ice.

"Anything we can do to keep the game safer,” Hockey dad, Neil Williams explained.

Another dad, Scott Olejnik agreed. "It's sad that we had to see multiple accident before it became a mandate. But I'm glad there was discussion behind it and not just a knee jerk reaction to force it down everyone."

Williams and Olejnik said neck guards are nothing new in their households.

"They've been wearing them ever since they started skating. Three, four years old. It's super important just for the fact that when they're young they can only control themselves so much, let alone having people around them control themselves” Williams explained.

USA Hockey has nearly 390,000 registered players under the age of 18. The organization said in a statement on Sunday, “The USA Hockey Congress today approved legislation requiring the use of neck laceration protection for players in all age classifications, other than adults, in games and practices, as well as for on-ice officials under the age of 18, effective August 1, 2024. For clarity, the requirement includes players in the youth, girls and junior age classifications.”

This means all players in youth, girls and junior hockey leagues registered with USA Hockey will have to add this to their equipment list.

Milosh Host, the owner of Hockey Locker in Milwaukee said this decision is crucial to keeping players safe.

"Finally, I mean we have to wear helmets, we have to wear gloves, and I think the neck is the only area where it's completely exposed,” Host explained.

Some players wear neck guards at Wilson Ice Arena where youth hockey is played nearly every day. However, many teen players said they don’t wear the protective gear.

"I just don't think it's very comfortable, it's kind of annoying being around your neck, and being like tight,” Ice Force player, Rex Giegerich explained.

17-year-old Giegerich doesn't wear a neck guard and this new mandate will not impact high school hockey teams in the state of Wisconsin. High school hockey follows the guidelines from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Giegerich believes this new mandate is a good idea though. "We should kinda be looking at this more often, especially with kids nowadays getting bigger and stronger and a lot more physical."

Details of the new rule can be found here.