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USA Hockey Requiring Neck Protection


Coming three months after a player died from a skate to the neck, USA Hockey has decided to require the use of neck laceration protection for all junior hockey players beginning this summer. The new rule will apply to all players and on-ice officials under the age of 18 in both games and practices.

“Safety is always at the forefront of our conversations and the action of our Congress today reflected that,” said USA Hockey president Mike Trimboli in announcing the decision last month. “We appreciate the significant work done by our Safety and Protective Equipment Committee, led by Dr. Mike Stuart, and the many others who were instrumental in the overall evaluation process.”

The decision comes months after the death of Adam Johnson, who suffered a serious neck injury playing for the English professional team Nottingham Panthers. A coroner’s report found the 29-year-old “sustained an incised wound to the neck caused by the skate of another player” and later died in hospital as a result of the injury. In 2022, Connecticut high school player Teddy Balkind died after a similar incident.

Neck laceration protection had previously been recommended but not required for youth hockey players. USA Hockey also “strongly recommends” neck laceration protection for adult players.

Interestingly, at about the same time as the USA Hockey announcement, a company called G8RTech, Inc. launched its initial product for hockey players, the G8RSkin Ice. Invented by G8RTech founder and CEO Carter Hogg, a 20-year-old college athlete, G8RSkin Ice is engineered to significantly decrease the risk of injury to hockey players, especially with regard to concussions and lacerations.

“Through my experience providing medical care to hockey players, I have seen a dire need for improvement in protective equipment. G8RSkin Ice is leading the fight to substantially reduce the risk of hockey-related injuries, including concussions and lacerations. I am honored to play a role in its development.”

Made from Kevlar, other proprietary materials and patent-pending design elements, G8RSkin Ice consists of a lightweight, cut-resistant collar and a balaclava-like shell. As a modular platform, G8RSkin Ice works seamlessly with all other hockey equipment, forming an integrated system that uses applied science and data to create a paradigm shift in the protection of the head, shoulders, neck, and chest. The product’s proprietary design encompasses 17 engineering elements, designed to disperse energy from impacts and stabilize the neck.

Among the first steps for G8RSkin Ice will be partnerships with youth, high school, and college athletes, so they can wear the effective equipment in upcoming sports seasons.

G8RTech’s first product, G8RSkin, is a specialized balaclava-like shell that is worn under sports helmets. Having successfully completed testing at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, G8RSkin has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of concussion through its proprietary design.