Nova Scotia

AUS institutes tougher penalties for headshots

Atlantic University Sport is hoping new tougher penalties for headshots will mean student athletes miss fewer classes.

Rules are meant to protect student athletes

Atlantic University Sport is hoping new tougher penalties for headshots will mean student athletes miss fewer classes.

St. Thomas University Tommies defenceman Chris van Larsen received an eight-game suspension when he hit forward Christian Gaudet of the University of Moncton Aigles Bleus in the head during a game last November.

AUS spokesman Phil Currie hopes tougher penalties like that will reduce the number of university athletes being seriously injured every year.

"Any time a student misses school, it's a big issue. We have to remember that our student athletes are students first," he said.

"The more we can do to protect those students and keep them in the classroom, the primary reason why they're in university, that's…what we need to do around the concussion issue."

Halifax university news source UNews.ca reports there have been 21 contact-to-the-head and 25 checking from behind penalties this season. That's nearly one dangerous hit for every three games.

Pete Belliveau, hockey coach at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said he's happy with the changes.

"We hope it will keep our players safe. They need to go to class, they need to study, they need to do their projects, so it's very important for the players," he said.

The AUS says the new rules just introduced this season apply to all sports where players risk concussions.