By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
3HL founder and CEO Justin Fox is not lacking in the categories of confidence and aspirations when it comes to his unique brand of the nation’s most beloved sport.
Fox founded the burgeoning hockey league two years ago in hopes of presenting an alternative for fans of the sport.
The idea came to him almost on a whim, while watching a game at a bar.
“I was sitting with a friend watching three-on-three overtime in an NHL game,” Fox recalls. “I just remarked how crazy and intense it was.”
The conversation soon turned to the idea of a three-on-three hockey league, and what started as a casual conversation has become a huge part of Fox’s everyday life.
“It really started to consume a lot of my time,” he says with a laugh. “It’s been that way for about two years now.”
Indeed the idea was beyond novel, it was groundbreaking, as the 3HL is the first league of its kind in North America.
The logistics began to come together and Fox decided to employ a tour schedule for the league, a series of single-elimination tournaments in cities across southern Ontario.
Fox explained this decision was influenced by his appreciation for the unpredictable nature of the NCAA’s annual 64-team March Madness tournament and the professional golf circuit.
For him, it was also easier to book an arena for a single weekend rather than trying to schedule 30 home games.
The 3HL officially launched in January, with two stops in Oshawa earlier this year.
The action returns on Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Tribute Communities Centre.
Eight teams, including the hometown Oshawa 88s, will battle for the $15,000 purse.
Although the 3HL is rooted in Canada’s national winter game, there are many different elements to its play.
Games run 14 minutes (two seven minute periods), something Fox says was influenced by the game of rugby 7s.
“If you had to play 60 minutes of three-on-three, you’d need about 100 players out there,” he remarked.
There is also no icing and offside calls as Fox says the ultimate focus is on the action.
“We’ve bottled up that three-on-three overtime intensity and combined it with a number of things,” Fox notes. “We’ve spent a lot of time almost creating a new sport.”
While by no means does he consider the 3HL to be competition to the NHL, Fox believes his brand of hockey is a culpable alternative.
“Our goal is to be Canada’s professional hockey league. We are kind of the CFL to the NFL. It’s a similar league with some significant rule changes that arguably make the game better.”
According to Fox, 3HL team rosters include numerous players who have played some level professional of hockey.
Former Oshawa Generals captain Brett Maclean, who also played in the NHL for the Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets, is among the league’s ranks.
Fox says these players now have a chance to play professional hockey close to home.
“In the NHL, you are going to make millions. But if you aren’t going to make millions, you don’t have to travel to the U.S. or Europe for nominal pay. We want to be the Canadian pro hockey league of choice.”
For more information on the 3HL and the Oshawa Showcase, including tickets, visit 3HLTour.com