Dasher boards are the walls around a hockey rink and they have two distinctive purposes. One is rather obvious to anyone who has attended a game. Keep the rock hard hockey puck inside the rink to protect the fan.

They also provide a rather rigid out-of-bounds border that hockey players strategically use to their skating advantage. Probably the second most popular thing that excites fans after a thrilling goal is a hard check against the dashing boards.

The Puck

Hockey dasher boards have evolved over the years. Back in the day, when there weren't hardly any fans, rinks were surrounded by 8 foot tall pieces of plywood. They left a couple short spots so the few onlookers could see the action.

When the age arrived when fans became increasingly enthralled with hockey, these boards were no longer practical. This was where the conundrum started. Something was necessary to keep a hockey puck, hurdling at speeds in excess of 100mph, from rocketing out of the rink. Without something to block the puck, it presented a dangerous situation for spectators.

The Boards

The invention of highly durable, tempered Plexiglas was the solution. It served as a protective barrier, yet the fans were now able to see the games. Regular glass came first, but the results were rather disappointing.

Plexiglas was strong enough to handle the impact of the puck and provide a see-through block for the fans. Today's rinks are seeing an increasing use of a durable polycarbonate that is lightweight and so strong it's used in spacecrafts. This protective wall between the game and the spectators must also absorb the impact of hockey players crashing against the boards.

The Check

Checking is a skill, especially used at the upper levels of hockey. Young players are taught to check the opponent against the boards, but the whole physics of the check changes when you put a pair of 200 lb men into the equation. Checking against the boards is often a very violent collision between two hockey players

When a skater checks against the dasher boards, it seems as if one player is attempting to do more than simply separate the player from the puck. For this reason, hockey rules insist that certain methods of checking against boards are illegal. Players for instance, earn a roughness penalty for using the stick, or any part of the arm to slam a player's head into the boards.

Fans may find this type of roughhouse play exciting, but it can be dangerous. Charging is another rule that covers hits across the rink, not just along the dasher boards. Hockey players average close to 200 lbs and regularly skate at speeds of 30mph. While checking is a practiced art in hockey, because of these two factors, the rules and penalties to protect the players are strict.

That's the scoop on dasher boards in hockey; important for two reasons. They are essential to protect the fans, and the players use them to gain a strategic advantage. The icy hard surface defines ice hockey and the goal is where players score points. However, the dasher boards are where checks are leveled and the puck stops here. For more information, talk to a professional like All American Arena Products.

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