League looking at ways to cut down on number of concussions
By Tom Williams
Taking a cue from the National Football League and National Hockey League, the USHL has stepped its efforts to prevent concussions.
“It’s something the league is trying to do this year to crack down,” Phantoms head coach Anthony Noreen said. “There is a new program where they are reviewing major penalties and serious penalties to see if they are suspendable acts.”
Phantoms forward JT Stengelin was the first Phantom to be penalized in the crackdown.
During the Phantoms’ 5-1 win over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on Oct. 5, Stenglein (at the time, the USHL’s second-leading scorer) particiapted in a post-whistle scrum and delivered a hit to a RoughRider.
Stenglein, that week’s USHL Offensive Player of the Week, was not penalized, but the RoughRiders suggested that league officials review the video from the game.
The USHL did and at first ruled that Stenglein’s hit did not warrant a suspension.
Coaches from the Dubuque Fighting Saints suggested the league look again.
“We saw it,” Saints head coach Jim Montgomery said, “but I think Cedar Rapids and the entire league looked at it.”
A second review resulted in a one-game suspension, right before the Saints made their first visit of the season to the Covelli Centre to play the Phantoms.
“With our new rules, the league looks at every ejection and every major [penalty],” Montgomery said. ”Dave Siciliano in the league office goes over them with Scotty Brand, the ref in chief.
“We’ve had three concussions so far this year,” Montgomery said. “You look at all the problems in football and hockey with people with concussions — we’ve got to protect people’s heads. [With] an intentional punch to the head, the player has to be protected.”
Minus Stengelin, the Phantoms struggled offensively, falling behind 3-0 before losing, 4-1. The next night, the Saints (5-0-0) won again by a 4-1 score.
“Whether we won two or lost both [games], I’d probably be saying the same thing — we need to improve,” Noreen said.
Tonight, the Phantoms (4-2-0) play the first of three games on three consecutive nights. The Phantoms are in Fargo, N.D., to play the Force (3-2-1).
Friday, the Phantoms move southeast to Iowa to play the Sioux City Musketeers (1-2-2). Then on Saturday, the Phantoms go northwest to South Dakota to play the Sioux Falls Stampede (4-2-0).
So far, the Force and Stampede are undefeated at home.
“One of the nice things about these long road trips and going way out west is that, the staff and the guys kind of treat it like it’s us against the world,” Noreen said. “You’ve got to make your own energy on the bench and in the locker room and you’re not going to get a lot of help from the fans.
“That’s one of the things that really brings teams together.”
Defenseman Jimmy Mazza said the losses to the Saints taught a good lesson.
“In order to win a championship, we’re going to have to deal with adversity,” Mazza said. “I think it’s going to help build our character.
“[Last weekend] was a little embarrassing so it’s great to be able to go out [west] with the chance to start throwing the body, get shots on goal, cause some havoc and win some games,” Mazza said. “It’s should be a great weekend.”