Weinlanguage: W. Hockey Should Legalize Body-Checking

The refereeing in the Harvard women’s hockey team’s 2-1 victory over Dartmouth was as inconsistent as the English department’s treatment of Tom Paulin. Seventeen penalties were called that Friday. Five were for body-checking. The NCAA officials could make the ref’s jobs a whole lot easier with one simple rule change: allow body-checking.

This will have two major benefits.

First, it will make refereeing more consistent, letting the women know precisely how much contact is allowed.

“Before games, I consciously make myself aware of who the refs are so that I can adjust my game accordingly,” said senior defenseman Pamela Van Reesema.

Second, it will make the game more exciting, as the players will be allowed to compete more aggressively. It will intensify rivalries.

For example, in last year’s Frozen Four semifinal, Brown defeated Minnesota in an extremely rough contest. In a USCHO.com sidebar, both Brown coach Digit Murphy and Frozen Four MVP Kristy Zamora endorsed checking in women’s hockey.

“We wanted to come out and hit them hard and hit them early,” Murphy said. “Luckily the ref let us play.”

Murphy was clear in her preference for this style of hockey.

“Hockey purists would say keep it out of the game, but if you ask all the players, I think they’d like to play check,” Murphy said. “I think it would make it a little more definitive.”

Zamora’s endorsement was slightly more conditional.

“Personally, I like the checking game better,” Zamora said. “I don’t know if you want hits all over the ice, but I think you need a little more leniency like you saw tonight—let some contact go.”

The Rock ’Em Sock ’Em aspect of hockey has long been appealing to fans of the men’s game. Many fans, myself included, often prefer to see bone-crushing hits over fancy goals.

Harvard women’s hockey coach Katey Stone disagrees.

“I think [checking] disrupts the game,” Stone said. “It would be better if we didn’t see clutching and grabbing—let the puck do the work.”

Stone cited a tremendous increase in the number of injuries in women’s hockey as another reason for opposing any rule change.

Freshman forward and Olympic silver medalist Julie Chu agrees with her coach.

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