YORKTON - A new hockey league is set to hit the ice June 18 and it is betting fans are going to turn out for 3-on-3 hockey from puck drop to final buzzer.
E.J. Johnston, President and CEO of 3ICE said the idea is one that fits for today’s world and sports fan, and they may be right as the world seems to want everything in a condensed package.
“We like to say it’s snackable,” said Johnston, in an earlier interview with Yorkton This Week, explaining games in 3ICE will be played in two eight-minute halves, of straight time, meaning the game will be quick.
The new league opens the door for players to try something new, and that’s exactly the case for Jayce Hawryluk who grew up just over the border at Roblin, Man.
“They (3ICE) reached out to me,” he explained. “I kind of looked at it and I really liked what they’re trying to do.”
The core rules of 3ICE would suggest what 3ICE will be trying to accomplish is offence, more offence, and more offence.
There will be no face-offs. After a goal the goaltender fishes the puck out of the net, gives it to a teammate and off they go -- ditto after an offside or icing.
Players will not sit in the sin bin either. Instead, calls will be automatic penalty shots.
“It’s more entertainment for fans who want to see more goals,” said Hawryluk. “ … There’s going to be a lot of scoring chances I’m predicting.”
Unlike sudden death 3-on-3 in hockey where a miscue might result in giving up a great scoring chance in transition facilitating a somewhat cautious approach with the puck, Hawryluk said with 16 minutes to play “there’s likely going to be a lot of trading chances.”
Unlike more traditional leagues where teams are city-based 3ICE will follow rugby 7s, Big3 basketball, Premier Lacrosse League and similar efforts where teams go on the road and play in a different locale each week, but not representing any particular city.
The first weekend of play is set for Las Vegas which Hawryluk said was a bit of a bonus as a player.
“I’m excited to meet my teammates . . . to see how the weekend turns out,” he said.
For Hawryluk a summer of 3ICE will be just another stop on a rather winding road of hockey.
For four seasons Hawryluk played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, then headed to stints with Springfield of the AHL and Manchester Monarchs in the ECHL before finally debuting in the NHL in the 2018-19 season playing 42 games with the Florida Panthers.
By the 2019-20 season he was with the Ottawa Senators for 11 games, then a season later was with the Vancouver Canucks for 30 games.
In 2021-22 Hawryluk was in Sweden with Skelleftea.
“I was kind of going back and forth on my opportunities, to stay over here, or going over there,” said Hawryluk.
The final decision was to head to Sweden where he hoped to play more, adding with the Canucks he was a third or fourth line option.
“I wanted to get to play in more key situations,” he said, adding he felt that being someplace to play in bigger moments was the best way “to work on my game to build my game.”
Hawryluk said the competition in the Swedish league was good, close to that of the AHL “with a little more skill and better skating because of the bigger ice surface.”
The fans were also great.
“They’re sort of the Canada of Europe,” he said, adding where he was in the north of Sweden “there’s not too much to do but play, or watch hockey and cross country ski,” adding he wasn’t a big fan of the ski option.”
As it turned out it was only 14 games into the Swedish season when suffered an injury, and he was shelved for nearly three months. Hawryluk said when he did come back the lingering effect of the missed games never let him excel as he had hoped.
“But there were definitely a lot of positives to take away from it,” he said.
Now, as an unsigned free agent in terms of hockey in the fall, Hawryluk said he hopes 3ICE might open a few doors, adding he chose to play to try something new.
“I decided let’s do it. Let’s try it out. It seemed like a fun opportunity,” he said.
For those wanting to check out 3ICE,