Chatham Maroons forward Ethan Sarfati. (Photo by Matt Weverink)

Full Facial Protection Mandatory For Junior Hockey

You won’t see any half-visors in OHA-governed Jr. hockey games next season.

The Ontario Hockey Association’s board of directors has decided to make it mandatory for players to use full facial protection starting in the 2017-2018 season.

In an information bulletin posted on its website, the OHA says its members have been discussing the issue for some time now. The OHA also supplied Hockey Canada with some statistics from the 2015-2016 season as part of an ongoing impact study.

The release says the “data with respect to facial and dental injuries while wearing half visors compared to full factial protection is staggering.”

The move would mean a change for many players across the Jr. B and Jr. C hockey circuit — the vast majority of them are currently wearing half-visors.

Chatham Maroons head coach Ron Horvat says he’s on board with the decision because it’s aimed at preventing injuries.

“When I played years ago, we had to wear the full cages and we got through with it,” says Horvat, adding he has seen a number of players suffer facial injuries during his time behind the bench. “There’s no intentional stuff, it’s just accidental… I’ve seen some bad injuries with teeth knocked out and stitches in the past.”

Horvat says it sometimes comes down to players not paying enough attention to their own safety.

“You get the hard-nosed guys that are always scrapping in the corners and on the boards,” says Horvat. “It may help the game — you might get some guys who will commit to the play all the time now that they know they’re protected.”

The OHA’s release says league officials are “confident that serious facial and dental injuries will be greatley reduced” as a result of the move.

The new regulation also has the full support of the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada.