Unique 3ICE Starts First Summer Loop

In case you didn’t notice– 3ICE started up this weekend. The summer 3-on-3 hockey league started in Las Vegas this weekend and thanks to the CBS Sports Network, you could have watched. If you don’t know about the league, it’s a summer league with various minor leaguers playing All-Star formatted 3-on-3 in a different city each week. They have former NHLers as coaches and it’s a good ol’ time.

While it’s a gimmick league, it is impressive this first-year league got a TV deal and it’s fun to just sit and watch a lot of goals and wide-open hockey. This league is tailor-made for skilled players who have just what it takes to have a clip of theirs go viral. It’s a short game with two halves, some interesting rules like penalties and icings are served as breakaways, music playing throughout, playing the puck after it hits the netting, goalies can go anywhere.

It’s as if roller hockey and box lacrosse had a baby and shipped it to the tundra.

Conceptionally, it’s not terrible. I’m not one for the NHL All-Star format, but a casual fan might enjoy all the back and forth and offensive chances. It could be a gateway drug for people to get more into hockey– outside of this 3-on-3 league. Plus, it gues some guys who were fringe pros in North America a spotlight on a bigger stage than they might have from other 3-on-3 leagues like Da Beauty League or other one-off summer tournaments.

For me, the biggest issue off the hop for me is that the back numbers and nameplates are the same color of the jersey, making it impossible to know who is who. That’s another thing, for a league just starting up with guys not many people know– little to no indication who these players on the ice are, making it hard to get any kind of connection to people watching at home. Some times the rules were a bit hard to figure out, though the chyrons were solid to explain it on screen.

Sure, the Orleans Arena wasn’t sold out for it and it remains to be seen if the in-person crowd or TV crowd pick up. It’s rough with the Stanley Cup Final going on to get much of a ground-swell going, but there were enough outlets to pick-up and hype-up the league that there’s a hope that it’ll gain in popularity. As the NHL winds down and more people see some highlights and the big goals that happen– it could bring about more attention as the season continues. Just have to hope the in-person crowd can pick-up and give it a bigger feel for this league.

Coming June 2021– 3ICE

From 3ice.com

It was announced that a Canadian 3-on-3 summer hockey league, 3ICE, is going to be starting in June 2021 and will have a solid TV deal. TSN and RDS picked up the rights for it on the Canadian side, while CBS Sports Network will be broadcasting the championship game.

Now, this is not unique to summer hockey, as the 3HL is a thing and we all know about Da Beauty League (and my thoughts on that thing). The difference here, is that it’ll be a traveling show and it’ll be on TV. With nine stops and a tournament every stop– that’s a nice cure for people who don’t own a calendar and don’t know when it’s October.

It’s a smart move by TSN, who don’t have much coverage of things in the summer time, as it’ll help draw people to watch 3-on-3 hockey. The interesting play is CBS Sports Network getting in on it, but only doing the championship game– whatever that might entail. Of course, CBSSN is known for broadcasting college hockey, so they have the talent to call and analyze games, but why not go through the whole summer?? I don’t know how many pressing shows that CBSSN actually has that they couldn’t go through with it, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose– it’s getting on US TV, so huzzah for that.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who comes out for these teams in terms of name recognition. You’d have to think that 3ICE would want to go ahead and get some recognizable names to move tickets and get people excited about watching it– which would mean trying to pluck from the Da Beauty League, as the 3HL runs in the fall through spring. Can it make some noise?? Sure, it’s hockey in Canada on Canadian TV– people will watch out of curiousity. The big thing is that if it was regularly broadcasted on US TV, what impact to the fans would it have?? Again, hockey people will watch if the timing is right, but who knows what kind of staying power it’ll produce.

Luckily, the rules are simple, there’s tournaments every tour stop, and it could produce a new folk hero or let people relive their days playing pond hockey…but in the summer. It’s going to be a faster game, a quicker game, and something that’ll keep the most short-attention spanned interesting…or that’s the hope.

One of the more interesting things is the timing of it, which could help its cause. The fact we’re still 18-months away allows the league to actually build hype for it, plot it out effectively so that it will have a model that works in terms of profitability for the league, players, and such; as well as not rushing to the ice like some other places would have when it comes to a new idea and hurrying it to market before it’s fully developed. Though people may forget about it because of time, it’s now up to the marketing team at 3ICE to show their moxie and make sure that people keep it in the back of their mind. With a place like TSN behind them, it’ll be easy above the 49th Parallel; it’ll be attracting US hockey fans to it that might be a little harder without a constant TV presence.

On the Topic Of Da Beauty League

Photo via DaBeautyLeague.com

I don’t think I get Da Beauty League. And that’s fine.

A lot of it has to do with the name of the league, especially with the fact I don’t use the hockey lingo in an unironic fashion. Just like how people call the EA Sports NHL line “Chel.” The whole short-speak doesn’t really register with me…until I use it as goofs and then it works in way to my vernacular and I become the worst.

Overall, though, I guess I don’t get the idea of it. Granted, it’s a nice alternative than just guys doing dryland and private skates. It puts them in a game-type situation, but it seems like it would be a big risk of injury from some kind of freak accident that they’ll endanger their NHL contracts for a time to be in a rec league.

While it does fill the void for some people who are in the “live hockey 24/7” camp; it just seems like something that’s somewhat unnecessary. Call me “not a real fan” for not wanting to see pro players play rec hockey…but I also hate the All-Star Game, so at least my opinion of this sort of thing is consistent.

But, like I said– it does give guys variety in their summer workout, the league does get sponsorship, and it seems to appeal to a certain sector of people who can’t go three months without watching hockey in the summer. That’s fine, I get that– and you could call it supply-and-demand if these Minnesotans or other hockey fans travel up to pay to watch these guys play in a rec setting. And there is a charity element to this, which is very awesome and should be at the upfront of this, but I’m not a marketing wizard– so I don’t make these moves. Hell– they even win a keg named after John Scott as a championship. Such a hockey bro thing to do. And that’s fine.

Maybe it’s a part of me getting older, maybe it’s watching too much hockey during the season that burns me out for the off-season, maybe it’s looking back at how I was when I was in that 24/7 mindset and shut off other things trying to get people to tune into hockey– which may or may not have made them tune out due to annoyance factor. Hell, it could just me not being their demographic. I just don’t understand that whole lifestyle thing anymore since I don’t play at a competitive level (or at all) anymore. And that’s fine.

Good on them for doing it and give some segment something to get excited about during the summer…but I guess it’s not for me. And that’s fine. Because things don’t have to be for everyone. Just don’t be an asshole about it on either side of the fence.