By Frank Vascellaro

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The games taking place at the Minnesota state boys hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center are a little different because of changes made about a year-and-a-half ago.

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Officials hope it’s gotten a little safer.

The high school league adopted rule changes to curb checking from behind, boarding, and contact above the neck after Jack Jablonski was paralyzed.

“Just because you put another rule in place, doesn’t necessarily mean the game’s gonna be safer,” said Charlie Seivert, a Bantam coach for Farmington.

Coaches will review the rules after the season, and many say refs need to be more consistent. Some say the rules do seem to be making a difference.

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“You didn’t see the big hits I think this year,” said Totino Grace assistant coach Bryan Shortridge. “And hopefully you don’t see it that way in the state tournament.”

And what about the push for safer games for the littlest hockey players?

John Maslowski’s 13-year-old son Andrew plays Pee Wee hockey, where they took away checking. He says there’s time to add that aspect of the game in Bantams.

“I do like the change because it allows the boys and girls to learn to play the game as I believe it should be played,” Maslowski said. “The passing instead of hitting and checking, and that will come with time.”

But other parents disagree.

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Said Jim Lombardi, “I’m not all for it, because when they get to Bantams, they don’t always know how to hit — and they’re bigger stronger at that point.”

Frank Vascellaro