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USA Hockey mandates neck guards for youth hockey players

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s something no hockey player, fan or parent wants to experience.

In October, former Pittsburgh Penguin Adam Johnson died on the ice after a skate hit his throat.

“It’s horrifying. It was a tragedy and unfortunately, it takes something like that for people to respond,” said Frank Colabufo, the head coach of the West Genesee Wildcats.

Now over three months later, the governing body of the sport, USA Hockey, announced a mandate: all players under 18 have to wear neck guards during games and practices.

The journal Pediatrics conducted a study involving 1,000 college ice hockey players and found that neck guards reduced neck lacerations by 94%.

“Personally, I’ve seen a few times a neck be saved from a neck guard and you hear the stories as well from the customers coming in and out,” said Shaun Norfolk, the Vice President of McKie Sports.

High school hockey leagues around the county are ahead of the mandate and have made it mandatory for players to wear neck guards on the ice.

“Anything that you can do be it neck guards or cut-proof apparel, if we have the ability to keep kids safe, then we should be doing that,” said Colabufo.

And Norfolk says neckguards have been flying off the shelves.

“If it just saves one kid, I think that’s enough. Until it happens to your kid, now you might be somebody who is against it and then your kid takes a skate to the neck, you see the cut on the Kevlar and not your kid’s neck it will open your eyes a little bit,” he said.

The mandate begins on August 1.

Making the game of hockey safer, one stride at a time.

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