An interesting new Safety feature forcing players to “look up”

Iceoplex gets hockey players to “look up” with new safety feature

By Jon Andreassi
Staff writer
newsroom@observer-reporter.com
Image description
Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

The Iceoplex at Southpointe added a “Look-Up Line” to increase safety for hockey players. A portion of the ice is painted to warn skaters they are approaching the boards. Order a Print

In the game of hockey, injuries resulting from collisions with the boards can be dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening.

The Iceoplex at Southpointe took a step toward reducing injuries and making the game safer with the addition of a Look-Up Line to its ice rink. The Look-Up Line is a 40-inch orange warning track that goes around the rink and helps players know when they are approaching the boards. This way they can “look up” so they don’t crash into them headfirst.

“We haven’t had anything so severe as a spinal injury. … We’re trying to be safe, and we’re trying to be proactive and lead the way in preventing what could happen,” said Mandi Pryor, marketing director at the Iceoplex. The Look-Up Line was created by Thomas Smith, a former hockey player who was involved in two separate collisions with the boards, resulting in severe injuries to his spine. The Look-Up Line has since been installed in hundreds of rinks. The line in the Iceoplex rink is the first one in Western Pennsylvania.

“We hope that more rinks will follow,” Smith said. “There’s no reason every rink in the country shouldn’t have one.”

Smith praised the Iceoplex, saying the decision to paint a Look-Up Line into the ice “speaks volumes” to the leadership and their desire to help protect kids from injury.

The Look-Up Line does not add or change any rules, and Smith says it is not an attempt to make the game “softer.” Instead, he hopes for a “cultural change” that will have players more aware of where they are on the ice and ultimately make them safer. Smith says the line has been working, and coaches at rinks that have it are teaching players about the line and how to be safe.

Smith and his organization, The Thomas E. Smith Foundation, have been involved in making sure the Iceoplex Look-Up Line conforms with their standards. Pryor notes that the Iceoplex stays in contact with the foundation and works with them to be sure it is following their guidelines and specifications. “We don’t want ours to be different from theirs, the next rink and the next rink,” Pryor said. “They want to have it as uniform as possible.” While the line has been installed in rinks where mostly younger people are playing, Smith sees no reason why it shouldn’t be installed at professional level rinks, saying that even NHL players aren’t perfect.

“We think there is value in the Look-Up Line at all levels,” Smith said.

Comment and tell us what you think of this safety feature! Would this be beneficial at all rinks?

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