By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
As the 3HL Tour looks ahead to its second season of 3-on-3 hockey, many new players will be looking forward with the same level of anticipation after the recent draft, including a crop of talent straight from Durham Region.
The 3HL Tour launched in 2016 following the hype around 3-on-3 style hockey stemming from the NHL’s new overtime format. The creation of entrepreneur Justin Fox, the league is looking to become the country’s newest pro hockey league, and an alternative for those younger players who my have outgrown junior hockey and don’t want to travel to the United States.
The 12-team league recently held their entry draft for the upcoming season, and many Oshawa Generals fans may notice a few familiar names on the list.
Among those players returning to the league are former Gen Brett McLean, who played with the team from 2005 to 2008, and will return with the Guelph Brewers; and Dylan Smoskowitz, who played with the Gens in 2013/2014, who will return with the Oshawa 88s.
A crop of new talent will also play their first games in the league come the fall.
Among them, former Gen Medric Mercier and Brett Parnham will join the Oshawa 88s; and Brad Snetsinger of Ajax who spent time with the Windsor Spitfires will join the Kitchener Lions.
The draft also saw Peter Neal (former Plymouth Whaler) selected by the Niagara Rapids, and Ajax-native Ryan Ramsey who spent time with the Peterborough Petes and will join the Toronto Bees.
Several current and former Whitby Dunlops are also making the jump to the 3HL, including current Dunlops defenseman Matt Baxter who will join the Niagara Rapids, and Oshawa native Patrick Jobb, currently a forward with the Dunlops, who will join the Oshawa 88s.
For 3HL spokesperson Pat Gregoire, he’s not surprised by the amount of talent looking to get involved in the league.
“Near the end of our season last year we had heard from a lot of outstanding professions who wanted to return home and continue their pro career on the 3HL Tour,” he says. “We have alway believed that with the format of the league, its events and season structure and lack of opportunity for professional hockey players to stay in Canada and play, the 3HL would be able to attract some elite talent.”
The league will open its season on October 7 and the tour will return to Oshawa Dec. 9 at the Tribute Communities Centre.
“I know people were shocked with how much the level of play improved from the first tournament in Oshawa to the Champions cup in May,” Gregoire says. “But I think once people see the talent on the ice this year, they’ll be even more impressed.”