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Off the Glass - Fernie Ghostriders Hockey Column
Hockey Canada has responded to the media’s endless concussion campaign and a huge drop in minor hockey enrollment across the country with a new “Head Contact” rule. The rule states that there will be zero tolerance on all head contact and the penalties will go all the way to suspension depending on the severity of the contact. Even accidental contact, like after a clean hit if the player’s head hits the glass, it’s now a penalty, as is the intimidating gloves in the face we see so much of in front of the net. Players will have to wash their own faces now. A big part of the concussion problem is the hard shells on the elbow and shoulder pads the players now use. The WHL will be trying soft caps on the pads this season and if the KIJHL can get the equipment supplied they will try it next season. This is way, way overdue; too bad Hockey Canada didn’t try experimenting with the equipment a few years ago (Don Cherry has been crowing about this for years) instead of imposing this impossibly hard to interpret rule. Those poor referees really have their hands full now.
Rider coach Will Verner tells us that Jeff Zmurchyk will be the Riders assistant coach this season. Jeff played five years of junior hockey split between Fernie, Trail and Merritt of the BCHL. Our Rider coaches picked him for two awards last year, the Most Inspirational Player and the Best Defenseman. The Eddie Mountain coaches named him the Best Defenseman. Jeff will attend school in Cranbrook during the day training as a firefighter and will work with the team at night and on the weekends.
Riders in the news. In 2000 Travis Warnygora was a defenseman on Fernie’s AWHL Championship team. This year Travis will be the Spokane Chiefs player scout for the state of Minnesota. The head scout and Warnygora’s boss in Spokane is former Rider coach Chris Moulton. Travis’ coach in 2000 was the notorious Fred Harbinson. This summer Fred ” recruited” (the USHL uses a different word) several of their best players for his BCHL Penticton Vees. Judging from what I’ve read on the internet and if the USHL Bloggers have their way you will be able to see Fred’s photo on the “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters hanging in their rinks this year.