October 17, 2017 10:53 am

The 2017-18 3HL season is about to kick off in London

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The 3HL tour is going to open their second season in London on Oct. 21.

Think NHL or OHL overtime without the 60 minutes leading up to it.

The 3HL tour is a 3-on-3 hockey league that acts a great deal like a golf tour.

Think PGA stops at Torrey Pines, the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach, only turn those into London, Collingwood and Guelph.

“The 3HL is the world’s first 3 on 3 professional hockey league,” says CEO, Justin Fox. “There are 17 events. Each event is an eight-team single elimination tournament, kind of like a March Madness format. Each game is 14 minutes with two halves. Winner goes on, loser goes home and there is a cash purse.”

Here is the schedule for London:

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There are 12 teams in the league, so not every team will play every event, but they do play a balanced schedule and there are names that hockey fans will more than just recognize taking part.

“About 80-90 per cent of the league has played in the Ontario Hockey League,” Fox admits.

Many of the players went on to carve out professional careers after that as well. Jason Williams of the London 3’s was on a Stanley Cup-winning team.

“Charlie Stephens played in (the league) last year and I had played with him in Germany and said I should give it a try, so now it’s something that I’m looking forward to,” says Williams.

“In minor hockey, junior and even at the pro level, you would have times in practice when you would play 3-on-3 and I always enjoyed it.”

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Fox says that kind of word of mouth has been key to attracting the kinds of names that make up the 3HL rosters.

“We were fortunate enough in Season 1 to get a Brett MacLean and a Theo Peckham to come on board and take a risk. Some players will say it’s the most fun they have had in their hockey career and they spread the message.”

Along with Stephens, was the first overall pick in the 1997 OHL Priority Selection, played with the Colorado Avalanche organization and just recently finished up a decade in Germany, the London 3’s also have Steven Sanza, a former captain of the Knights and member of the Western Mustangs and former Minnesota Wild forward, Matt Foy.

The league and its tour were born innocently enough.

“I saw the excitement of the 3-on-3 overtime format and I was kind of joking with a friend about how great it might be to have a league,” says Fox. “The next thing you know I was buying the URL for the league (website) over my phone.”

Most tournament purses are set at $15,000. If a team wins in the first round, each roster shares $2,000 and advances to the semi-finals. Win there and it’s another shared prize of $2,000 and a berth in the final, which offers up another $3,000.

Teams that lose in round one, will go home empty-handed.

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Fox is eager to see how the second season unfolds and where the league might actually be able to go.

“I’d love to see a million dollar purse. I’d love to see our players able to make a living out of this.  I’d love to see a significant amount of money where players can look to this as a viable choice for professional hockey.”

What: The season opener of the 3HL Tour

When: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3 p.m.

Where: The Sports Centre at Western Fair District

For more: 3hltour.com

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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