3ICE Plans To Maximize The Best Part Of Hockey
Among all the innovations that the NHL has implemented in recent seasons, none have made anywhere near as dramatic an impact as the five-minute three-on-three overtime period that is contested if regular-season games are tied after 60 minutes of regulation time.
The break-neck tempo and no-holds barred end-to-end action of three-on-three hockey has put fans on the edge of their seats and left NHL bettors on the proverbial edge of a ledge, chewing their fingernails down to the quick, wondering if their play at the sportsbook is going to go up in smoke thanks to a sudden turn of events on all that open ice.
The creators of 3ICE are the kind of folks who like to eat their dessert before the main course. Their line of thinking is why not take the best part of the game and make it the entire game?
That’s how the concept for 3ICE, the first three-on-three professional hockey league was born. “We are an overtime all-the-time league,” is how 3ICE CEO E.J. Johnston explained it to the HockeyDebates.com podcast.
The son of Stanley Cup-winning NHL goalie and former NHL coach and executive Ed Johnston, he believes that people are ready for full-on three-on-three hockey and will be willing to watch a pro league devoted to this fast-paced way of playing the game.
“We’re taking the best innovation in hockey and making it our full-time format,” Johnston said. “All of the end-to-end action, the tic-tac-toe passing, the breakaways, the odd-man rushes.
“It’s really going to be an exciting brand of hockey and we’re excited to bring it to everyone.”
How It Will Work
The 3ICE initial campaign will consist of eight teams, with the first season slated to be taking to the ice in the summer of 2022.
Each of those eight teams will list just six skaters and one goalie on their roster. Rather than being named after a city, each club will take on a sponsor’s identity, similar to the way auto racing works. The league will own all the teams and pay the salaries of the players.
It will also be operated as a three-on-three for the road show. The league will make nine tour stops across nine cities in both Canada and the United States, mostly in the Northeast. Games will consist of two eight-minute halves. Instead of penalties, infractions will reward the non-offending team with a penalty shot.
Each tour stop will consist of a seven-game single-elimination tournament to determine a weekly winner, as well as accumulating points toward their season totals. At the end of Week 8, the regular season will conclude. The top four teams in the point standings will advance to the Week 9 playoff to determine a season champion.
They anticipate their season launching in late June, shortly after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and concluding in late August, just prior to NHL teams opening their training camps.
The leadership group at 3ICE has already lined up an array of Hall of Famers to serve as the league’s coaches.
On board with 3ICE are such hockey notables as Bryan Trottier, Grant Fuhr, Larry Murphy, Guy Carbonneau, John LeClair, Angela Ruggiero, Joe Mullen and Larry Murphy, as well as Johnston’s dad.
Craig Patrick, a Stanley Cup-winning GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins and part of one of hockey’s most famous families, is serving as 3ICE Commissioner.
TV Deal In Place
They haven’t even signed a single player yet, but already 3ICE has network television contracts in place for both Canada and the United States.
CBS will broadcast the 3ICE action in the USA. In Canada, both TSN (English language) and RDS (French language) 24-hour sports stations are on board with this new brand of hockey.
Who Will Play?
Johnston describes 3ICE as a snackable version of the NHL. He envisions the prototypical 3ICE player being an NHL veteran between the ages of 25-35. He used Conor Sheary of the Washington Capitals, a quick-footed 5-foot-8 forward, as an example of the sort of waterbug speed merchant who’d be ideal for a three-on-three league.
“That’s our kind of player,” Johnston explained. “We’re not looking at first or second-line players, but maybe that third-line player who could be among first ones over the boards when they go into three-on-three.”