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.