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An idea that came from the popularity of the NHL's 3-on-3 overtime format gave life to the newly created 3ICE, a fast-paced 3-on-3 ice hockey league that launched on June 18.

The league has already played six games of its nine-event lineup, and Aug. 6 at Bridgestone Arena is stop No. 8 on 3ICE's schedule.

“I saw it as an opportunity to keep playing the game that I love,” said former Nashville Predator Chris Mueller, who currently plays for third-place Team Murphy. “I missed the game and missed competing. It is the excitement and vision of E.J. (Johnson); what he sees in 3-on-3 hockey and what it could be. I won’t lie that the prize money in the pool would be an incentive to keep playing also.”

3ICE is a six-team league coached by hockey Hall of Famers Joe Mullen, Bryan Trottier, John LeClair, Guy Carbonneau, Larry Murphy, and Grant Fuhr.

Teams consist of six skaters and one goalie, and all skaters in the league played in the NHL, American Hockey League (AHL), Kontinental Hockey League, or other professional leagues throughout their career.

Games consist of two eight-minute halves with a running clock, and there are no overtime periods. If tied at the end of regulation, the game shifts to a one-round shootout until a winner is crowned.

3ICE's rules and regulations differ slightly from the NHL. For instance, fighting and cross-checking are not permitted, and if a penalty is drawn, no power play is awarded but instead the coach of the team that drew the penalty gets to choose a penalty shooter.

Intentional icing also results in a penalty shot, as does a missed shot at an empty net from behind center ice. There are also no coaches challenges or instant replay reviews for offside.

“I do think it is tough because you are taught to go through a guy,” Mueller continued. “In 3-on-3, you do not want to get embarrassed, but when you can’t hit someone or play the body, it is kind of tough, because guys are so talented.

"When you lose in (traditional) hockey, you can take frustrations out on the other team. In 3ICE, you can’t do that. Overall, it leads to more scoring chances and more goals. With not having to worry about getting your head taken off, it has given guys the freedom to try different things without facing repercussions.”

The vision for 3ICE came from E.J. Johnson, the son of former NHL goalie, coach, and general manager Ed Johnson. Prior to founding the league, EJ was an executive producer in Los Angeles creating and writing multiple TV series.

Teams have played in Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Hershey, Penn., Grand Rapids, Mich., Denver, and London, Ontario. 3ICE 's next stop is Quebec City on July 30 before finishing the regular season with stops in Nashville and Las Vegas.

“The big reason was hockey markets,” Mueller said of the cities 3ICE chose for its inaugural season. “With Vegas getting their team a couple of years ago and Nashville being a city that has the Predators, there is a rabid fan base and a lot of interest. Then they picked some pretty cool AHL cities like Grand Rapids and Hershey, Pennsylvania. The Canadian cities are always a big turnout and locked in.”

The league has 52 regular season games followed by a playoff tournament that will be played in Las Vegas on August 22nd. Prize money is similar to the PGA tour — the more wins accumulated, the bigger the payout split within the team.

The sliding scale will be higher for the team that wins the league championship, but the top four teams in the playoffs get a set amount of prize money divided between skaters, goalies, and coaches.

“From what I have gathered, it is team-oriented for sure,” Mueller added. “It is very heavy for the champion. The better you do, the more money you are going to make. There are bonus incentives for goal of the night, leading scorer, and MVP of the league.”

With two-thirds of the season completed, 3ICE has been gaining in popularity with reports of the league expanding to Europe and the sport possibly being added to the Olympics.

“There has been interest in adding 8-10 teams next year and possibly expanding to Europe, having two leagues run and then have a champion of each in Europe and North America play each other in Vegas for the championship," Mueller remarked.

“The first couple of weeks was a feeling out trial for the players, staff, fans, and everyone involved. The more the league goes on and the traction we get, the more credibility it has. Something brand new to take off like this with more partners jumping on board is great.For the players, it is getting competitive. Guys really want that $1 million dollar purse and to win the title for the inaugural league. To see something four years in the making progress and do well, I am excited to be a part of it.”

Tickets are on sale on the 3ICE website or the Bridgestone Arena ticket office/website.