3HL forms a team for Simcoe County
It may be a hot and steamy July, but the 3HL hockey league is already thinking about next season on the ice.
The league came into being because 3HL president Justin Fox has watched a lot of hockey and always thought that overtime periods brought out the best in the sport. So he created a game where the whole contest is played that way, only with no icing, no face-offs and end-to-end action.
In the league’s first visit to Collingwood last year, the more than 700 people who watched thought it was a winner. An eight-team round robin tournament featuring ex-pros and collegiate players who played two 14 minute periods with a winner take all for the cash purse at the end of the night.
“We came up to Collingwood and it was a really successful event,” said Pat Gregoire director of media for the 3HL. “And a lot of people, small businesses were interested in bringing a team up there.”
So they did.
The league announced the Simcoe County Clippers would join the league’s expansion into four communities this season, alongside the Aurora Avalanche, Hamilton Steelers and Niagara Rapids, bringing the compliment up to 12 teams.
“We figure that when we come back to Collingwood we expect it will be a great crowd, but with an 18 game season we thought there would be a chance to play in Barrie and Orillia as well so that’s why the Simcoe County Clippers,” said Gregoire.
A big supporter of last year’s game town councilor and businessman Bob Madigan was thrilled to here about the expansion and that the league is coming back to town
“I think that it’s amazing and huge opportunity for the town,” said Madigan. “Last year it was an amazing event, it just showed how hungry Collingwood is for competitive hockey. So with all the competition with all of the events that were going on that night for us to fit more than 700 people into the Eddie Bush in the heart of the community was amazing.”
With having 12 teams in the 3HL, it has allowed the league to expand their season to 18 events, however not all 12 teams may necessarily appear.
“We are going to stick with the eight team events, it just seems to work better,” said Gregoire. “ It allows us to have more tournaments and give us a chance to grow the 3HL brand in more areas where we haven’t been.”
Gregoire dismisses the idea that having more teams will water down the competition.
“We already have a ton of interest from a lot of ex-professionals that really want to get involved in the league so I don’t think adding four more teams will do that,” said Gregoire. “If anything is gives more players, whether they are ending their career, or coming out of retirement or extending their pro hockey career, it is a chance for them as well.”
In a place like Simcoe County, there are a ton of talented hockey players that have to go somewhere else to play, this might give them something to consider said Gregoire.
The 2017/18 schedule is due to be finalized by the end of the month, but the 3HL will return to the Eddie Bush Memorial for the Collingwood Classic, Gregorie said and the league hopes to add one or two other events in Simcoe County. Barrie, Orillia and Innisfil are the three potential areas to host a 3HL event.
Entry Draft for the league takes place Aug. 3.