Ray Bourque, a Hockey Hall of Famer and former Boston Bruins player, has joined 3ICE as a head coach for its second season. The summer hockey league consists of eight teams and will visit seven cities, beginning at Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 28 June and culminating in the Patrick Cup Championship on 12 August at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Games are played on a 3-on-3 basis, with four of the league’s teams competing in bracketed single-elimination tournaments at each tour stop.
The former professional ice hockey player spoke to ESPN this week about his reasons for joining the innovative league. Bourque said he loves the non-stop action of 3-on-3 and had never played the game format before. He agreed to join the league last season but couldn’t fit the weekend schedule into his calendar. This year’s schedule, which mostly falls on Wednesdays, enables Bourque to participate.
Bourque will be joined by five other coaches for the new season, including John LeClair, Guy Carbonneau, and Joe Mullen. Two new head coaches will assist this season: Ed Johnston Sr. and Craig Patrick. Bourque’s sons, Chris and Ryan, have both decided to play in 3ICE, the first time Ray will coach them since early youth hockey, when he helped their teams.
Last year, 3ICE generated buzz for its new rules, including the use of penalty shots rather than power plays and permitting pucks to be played off the netting behind the glass. Despite having mostly minor league players, the league gained a solid following. The second season is scheduled for 3-on-3 games, which are played in one eight-minute period that switches sides halfway through. The action can get frenetic due to the limited players on the ice and the challenging space. The bonus is that the fast-paced style can be engaging, making it fun to watch for TV viewers and live audiences alike.
Given its successful debut, it is not surprising that 3ICE has gained the commitment and enthusiasm of a respected former professional hockey player joining the league’s coaching ranks. With Bourque on board alongside other experienced coaches, the league promises even more exciting 3-on-3 hockey for the 2022 season.