MINNETONKA (WCCO) — When hockey teams are on a hot streak, they typically don’t like to change things up. But just two days before their section final game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the Minnetonka Skippers decided change would be good.
The entire team switched to a new type of helmet. They got fitted for M11 Pro helmets, which are replacing the regular M11’s they started wearing a couple years ago. Both designs are the brainchild of hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier and his sister Mary Kay.
“It feels a little lighter. The padding the helmet is a little softer. Yeah, it’s a nice feel,” said junior Max Coatta.
The new M11 Pro has a sleeker look than the old M11. It also has more ventilation on the front of the helmet and they say it’s just as safe if not safer on the inside.
“These are our little 7-tech pods. They work like shock absorbers- they compress and reset,” said Mike Weum of the Messier Project.
It’s that technology that the helmets’ designers believe sets the M11 series apart. In the past, most helmets had a foam liner system. But after watching the careers of several teammates get cut short due to head injuries, Mary Kay Messier says her brother realized that the 7-tech pods could re-set quicker upon impact- and greatly reduce the risk of a concussion.
“It’s really critical that parents and coaches and players get themselves educated. It helps optimize the performance of the helmet and gives them better protections,” said Mary Kay Messier.
Messier says unlike foam liners, which break down over time, the 7-tech actually gets stronger.
Minnetonka is one of more than 200 Minnesota hockey teams that made the switch to M11’s. Since then, concussions have been almost a non-factor for the Skippers, which is why they didn’t mind upgrading right before the biggest game of the year.
“We haven’t had one this year. We maybe had one last year. For the most part they have done what they said they’ve done,” said Minnetonka Coach Brian Urick.
Hill-Murray also got fitted for the M11 Pros before their section final game.
The Messier’s say studies show that the 7-tech liner is 140 percent better than the foam liners after third impact.
The M11 Pros will be available to everyone beginning in April.