Professional 3-on-3 ice hockey to debut in North America, CBS Sports lands rights

A new 3-on-3 professional ice hockey league called 3ICE is scheduled to debut in North America in 2021.

The touring league has been inspired by the excitement of 3-on-3 overtime play in the National Hockey League.

Debuting in June 2021, the 3ICE tour will run straight after the Stanley Cup Final in June through the end of August ahead of NHL training camps.

The league has been created by EJ Johnston, the son of former pro hockey goalie and coach Ed Johnston and NHL veteran Craig Patrick. Johnson and Patrick are chief executive and commissioner of 3ICE, respectively.

The league, operating on a touring model, will comprise eight teams of seven players each, and a head coach, who will play in nine planned stops across North America. Organizers are looking to attract former NHL players to compete in the start-up league.

Utilizing a full-sized rink, every game will consist of two, eight-minute halves, “using a running clock to keep the end to end action moving at an unprecedented pace.” Teams will compete in a bracket-style tournament at every individual stop on the planned tour.

There will also be fan interaction elements, potentially even voting to determine the result of a video goal review, rather than having officials determine it.

The 3ICE tour has signed a deal with CBS Sports Network for television coverage in the United States, and with TSN and RDS in Canada. Regular-season 3ICE games will air exclusively in the US on CBS Sports Network, with the championship game shown on CBS.

The league also has formed a partnership with Getty Images and ASM Global. It has not been disclosed how much players or coaches will be paid or how the league is funded.

Johnston said: “Three-on-three hockey has proven to be incredibly exciting display of speed, skill and creativity, and we see a creation of a league based entirely on that as a natural extension whose time has come. We believe we have the best part of hockey and when you add to that the way fans consume and share content today, we can see a day with 3ICE media platforms and leagues in North America, Europe and beyond.”

Patrick added: “3ICE is going to thrive on pure skill, creativity, play making and goal scoring. What that means for fans is that our events will be all hockey and no filler. Fans will get seven games in a single-elimination format and a champion will be crowned at each of our nine stops across North America. No penalties, only penalty shots. No long intermissions or stoppage in play for video reviews. Just pure excitement.”

Meanwhile, a new skills competition at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, later this month will feature players shooting pucks from the stands, over the fans and at targets on the ice, according to ESPN.