By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Three-on-three hockey is returning to the Tribute Communities Centre, and for those who got a glimpse of the tournament the first time around, they may be in for a surprise this time.
The 3HL Tournament is making its return to Oshawa on May 6 for what will be the league’s final tournament and championship bracket. The return follows a successful campaign at the TCC in January. Since then, the event has held similar tournaments across the GTA, and things have stepped up a notch, says Pat Gregoire the league’s spokesperson.
”I think our inaugural season has been quite the success. Each tournament, we continue to grow more and more interest from all over Southern Ontario. I feel like fans don’t know what to really expect until they come and see it themselves and they don’t leave disappointed,” he says. “For the fans that were out at the TCC for the Oshawa showcase in January, they will be in for a nice surprise as the level of play has increased immensely.”
Operating similar to the NCAA’s March Madness, the eight teams face off in an elimination style bracket for an opportunity to take home portions of the $15,000 purse. Portions of the proceeds are also donated to chairty.
Games are set up similar to Rugby 7s, popularized at the most recent Olympics in Rio, seeing teams compete in two seven-minute halfs with a one-minute break in between.
“The fast-paced, back and forth “go-go-go” three-on-three play mixed with the intensity of 14 minute games in a single-elimination bracket style of tournament creates a unique experience that our fans have loved,” Gregoire says. “Not only are we gaining more traction with fans, but our talent pool continues to grow as well.”
That talent pool also includes a pair of familiar faces for Oshawa Generals fans with former Gens Brett MacLean and Dylan Smoskowitz taking up spots on team rosters. MacLean has managed 11 points in eight games with the Guelph Brewers, while Smoskowitz has a point per game in three appearances with the Oshawa 88s. The 88s also have a collection of Durham Region talent on their roster with current Whitby Dunlop players Chris Gour, Brett McConnachie, Tyler Melancon and Corey Tamblyn.
Other Durham players in the league include Jordan Reed of Ajax with the Toronto Bees, former captain of the Saginaw Spirit and Pickering’s own Chris Chappell with the Guelph Brewers and Whitby’s Brett Mackie, also with the Brewers.
The Mobility Shop 3HL Champions Cup is the last tournament of the season and serves as the championship for the league. The tournament is set to get underway at 3 p.m. at the Tribute Communities Centre on May 6.