Half the ice, twice the fun.
That’s the theory underlying cross-ice hockey, and fans can see it in action when High Calibre Hockey presents its inaugural Christmas Classic 3 on 3 Hockey Tournament.
The event goes Dec. 21-22 at Glacier Gardens Arena in Comox, and organizers are hoping to have four teams in each of four age divisions – Novice, Atom, PeeWee and Bantam.
Teams will consist of seven to 10 players, including a goalie. As well as teams, individuals are also encouraged to register and they will placed on teams requiring extra players. All skill levels are welcome.
Joey Ewing and Cameron Knox of High Calibre Hockey Academy in Courtenay note there will be two games being played side-by-side at the same time on the half-ice format.
“All teams are guaranteed to get eight 25-minute games,” Ewing noted. “At the finals in each division they win a cup with their name on it and individual medals.”
Early registration is recommended to enable organizers to place individuals on teams. Deadline to register is Nov. 30.
Cost is $1,200 per team and $120 per individual. This includes a Christmas-themed red and green jersey with a tourney logo on the front and number on the back.
Registration is available by calling Ewing at 604-698-5464 or Knox at 250-702-5719. More info is available at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out High Calibre Hockey Academy on Facebook.
Organizers are hoping to attract a good turnout of Comox Valley teams and individuals, but add that invites have gone out to other Vancouver Island minor hockey associations.
Admission to the tourney is free and proceeds from 50-50 ticket sales will go to Comox Valley organization You Are Not Alone (YANA). “Half to the owner of the winning ticket and the other half to YANA,” Ewing explained.
Organizers note Santa is expected to drop by the arena to make sure players (and parents) are being nice, not naughty. Games are 25-minutes long, running time. A no icing rule and no offside rule will be in effect, with line changes at 60 second intervals.
Knox says 3 on 3 hockey is gaining popularity in the United States, and Ewing adds the High Calibre Hockey Academy embraces the “small area” game. It’s where the half the ice, twice the fun comes in.
“The interesting thing with 3 on 3 cross-ice is players, especially younger players, get a lot more touches (of the puck),” Ewing said. In one study of 8U hockey players, when the players skated full ice, they touched the puck an average of seven seconds a game.
“As soon as they went cross-ice … it went from seven seconds to three minutes, an incredible amount of more touches,” Ewing said. (Watch an ‘NHL Analytics Tracking of 8U Hockey Players’ at https://youtu.be/CB_Ygapyl7c).
“You’re able to work on give-and-goes, and even defensive structures are crucial in 3 on 3 because you take the neutral zone out of it,” Ewing said.
“You’ve got to watch the people behind you too as there’s no offsides,” said Knox. “There’s definitely some plays that you can do that you couldn’t do anywhere else.”
To put things in perspective, USA Hockey built a 130×310-foot outdoor rink (regulation NHL rinks are 85×200 feet) and doubled the size of the nets from 4×6 feet to 8×12 feet, then had adult players skate on the surface.
The players noted they seldom touched the puck and felt overwhelmed by the dimensions of the rink – much like young players on full ice. (Watch video ‘From Child’s View, Parents Find Full-Ice Hockey No Fun’ at https://youtu.be/cXhxNq59pWg).
Getting back to the High Calibre Hockey Christmas Classic, Ewing and Knox say they hope to make it an annual event. “We’re looking to have that fun, Christmasy feel to it,” Ewing said. “It’s almost like pond hockey. Parents can just go out and watch their kids.”
And keep an eye out for Santa, too.