Minor Hockey players across northern Ontario may be breathing a little easier as the Northern Ontario Hockey Association has changed its rules making mouth guards optional instead of mandatory.
Jason Marchand, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association executive director believes it boils down to the fact that there is no proof that mouthguards prevent concussions.
The change came during the recent NOHA AGM which took place in North Bay on May 6.
“They (mouthguards) do prevent dental injuries and what not, so in the end the membership voted to support the removal of mandatory mouth guards - they are still optional for those who still want to continue to wear them and those who wear them must wear them properly and that will be our message moving forward,” stated NOHA Executive Director Jason Marchand.
Officials were cracking down on mouthguard use for all age groups last season, as many players from junior A down to Novice have gotten into the habit of chewing on a mouthguard while playing, which is, and will continue to be, a misconduct penalty.
“In the end it was passed so we will make sure again to educate the people that still wear the mouthguards that they must be worn properly, and from the official side we have to let them know that they are no longer mandatory however if they do wear them they have to wear them properly,” said Marchand.
Marchand adds the change will not apply to junior aged players in the NOJHL.
Since those players are only required to wear a half visor, the insurance policy requires junior players in the north to continue to wear mouthguards on a mandatory basis.