The NHL season is quickly approaching its conclusion. The Stanley Cup Final is right around the corner, which means there are only a few weeks remaining before there are no NHL games to watch. However, the end of the NHL season does not mean the end of hockey games. In fact, a relatively new league is gearing up to pick up where the NHL leaves off. That league is 3ICE.
3ICE is a hockey league that was founded by E.J. Johnston, son of former NHL goaltender Ed Johnston. E.J. wanted to bring what many believe to be the best part of hockey, that being the three-on-three overtime format, to the main stage. Now, after a year of success, 3ICE is getting ready to begin its second season with even more thrills and twists than the last.
3ICE Introduces a New, Yet Familiar, Style of Hockey
3ICE was designed with leagues like basketball’s BIG3 in mind, and it provides hockey fans with a summer league to watch that takes the NHL’s overtime format and cranks it up a notch. Rather than a five-minute period with sudden death rules, 3ICE has two eight-minute periods that have a continuous play clock unless a penalty or injury occurs. However, this is far from the only change that 3ICE makes to hockey’s traditional format.
Penalties are handled much differently in 3ICE than in many hockey leagues. For starters, there is no penalty box. Each penalty results in a penalty shot, which makes every penalty much more dangerous for the respective team. Additionally, intentional icing is a penalty as well, which works to keep the game at a quick pace. Players are also required to respect “the clear zone.” The clear zone is a ring of blue ice around the net that players have to clear out of once the goalie makes a save.
Because of these rule changes, 3ICE games are incredibly fast-paced. According to Johnston, the typical scoring in a game is nearly three times a normal NHL game. This level of scoring is more than just a novelty, as well. The highest-scoring player of the week is also rewarded a golden helmet. This helmet does more than just show off the league’s best player of the week, as the final wearer of the helmet at the end of the season takes home a cash prize, which creates a bit of individual competition to go alongside the team play.
The various rule changes that 3ICE made to hockey’s traditional format have created a type of hockey that maintains the best part of overtime while changing enough to make it unique. However, the rules are not the only draw for fans who may not have tuned into the league yet. 3ICE has one more surprise up its sleeve: the coaches.
Each 3ICE Team Has a Star-Studded Coach
Perhaps the largest draw of the 3ICE league is the large number of recognizable names behind each bench. In order to get the most out of each team, the league has employed former NHL stars, such as Larry Murphy, Grant Fuhr, Ray Bourque, and more. These former NHLers are tasked with getting the most out of their teams, which have each been named after the former player acting as their coach.
While each team is named after its coach for the time being, that will not be the case forever. Johnston explains that the league plans on shifting the names of their teams in the coming years to represent a location rather than a coach (For example, “Team Detroit” as opposed to “Team Murphy”). However, having each coach be the face of their teams provides plenty of reasons for fans of these former superstars to see them behind the bench.
The 3ICE season begins on June 28 in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. EST, and will be broadcast live by CBS Sports, TSN and TVA Sports. The season will run for six weeks before the championship game takes place on Aug. 12 in Philidelphia. Stay tuned for more content about 3ICE as the season progresses, and make sure to tune into 3ICE this summer to enjoy the best part of hockey each and every week.