3-on-3 hockey a hit
by Adam Steiss|10 JUL 2019
The 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games will feature four ice hockey events: a men's and women's six-team ice hockey tournament, and for the first time ever a 3-on-3 cross-ice men's and women's tournament. 
The IIHF Hockey Development Camp played host to the Test Event for the Mixed National Olympic Committee 3-on-3 Ice Hockey competition, which will take place next year during the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The decision to host a test event for the YOG at the Hockey Development Camp was an easy one for the IIHF, which had previously hosted qualification tournaments and test events for the YOG Skills competitions that were held in Innsbruck 2012 and Lillehammer 2016.

“The Hockey Development Camp was the perfect opportunity to test out this new format,” said HDC Director Aku Nieminen. “We have very high expectations for bringing 3-on-3 cross-ice into the Youth Olympic program. We therefore wanted to look at all aspects of the operation of the competition before we get to Lausanne, because it’s important that we get it right.”

The HDC campers were split up from their usual six-team group, which they had been put into for the duration of the camp, into eight teams of 14. These were further divvied up into three lines, with three players on the ice and one in reserve.

“It was just very quick,” said Luke Woodworth, a camper from Canada. “You had to move your hands, think fast, and make plays quick on the small ice, it was very fun.”
The 3-on-3 cross ice event taking place at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games will feature mixed teams with players from different countries. 
The Format for the 3-on-3 is as follows:
  • 3 periods x 16 minutes
  • Each player shift lasts exactly a minute (48 shifts in total)
  • Goaltenders change every 8 minutes
  • 3-minutes in between periods
Body-checking is not allowed in 3-on-3 cross-ice. Otherwise, game penalties remain as indicated in the IIHF Rule Book apply. With 3-on-3 taking place in a cross-ice format, there are no icing or offside calls.

In 3-on-3 play, when a penalty is called, the player must leave the ice immediately and the game will continue 3-on-2. The duration of the penalty is the remainder of the shift plus the following shift. If a goal is scored by the team playing power play, the penalty ends. Should the same team receive another penalty while playing short-handed, the game will continue 4-on-2.

If the game is tied at the conclusion of the regular time, there will be a penalty-shot shootout. The shootout will follow sudden-death format from the beginning and allows one skater from each team to take a shot until a winner is determined.

Click here to see a video of the 3-on-3 cross-ice format

Players from the camp were divided into eight teams, who each played one game. 
In keeping with the YOG approach to de-emphasize competition in favour of a more inclusive, youthful and interactive approach to sport, an MC was employed for the competition and music was played throughout the games to keep the crowd entertained.

“It was great,” said Steve Dreyfus, the Ice Hockey Sport Manager for the 2020 Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee. “It was the first time seeing this ice hockey format, and to see so many players on the ice at the same time.”

“The organizers did a great job, we can for sure improve some details but I’m happy to discover another exciting form of hockey. It’s important of course to test everything: the boards, the Zamboni, and the coordination between the two fields of play. It was great and a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing it in Lausanne.”

Some of the main feedback points included adjusting the duration of player shifts and intermissions, along with some other minor adjustments to be made before the puck is dropped in Lausanne.

Aside from serving as a useful preparation for the YOG, the IIHF will also analyze the test event, and evaluate whether or not 3-on-3 might be recommended for wider implementation into developing national team programs.

“We are hoping that this concept extends beyond the YOG and is adopted by countries around the world, especially in countries where ice is limited or ice time is difficult to come by,” said Nieminen.
The campers were enthusiastic about taking part in the test event. 
The 3-on-3 test event was fully embraced by the camp participants, who welcomed the change in the camp program that was a departure from the usual full-ice games and practices and the off-ice work they had been doing so far at the camp.

“It was good fun, just non-contact and being able to go out there and have fun and play 3-on-3 competitively, the guys all enjoyed it,” said Ben Brown from Scotland, who expressed his appreciation for the camp’s program.

“I feel like I’ve improved a lot, I feel like I’m faster, and with the meals we’re having I feel so much lighter and faster. It’s been a good experience, I’ve made a lot of friends and will probably remember this experience for the rest of my life.”

“It’s been a first-class camp, they take care of you,” added Woodworth. “You got equipment managers, coaches, you got great meals at the dining hall, it’s a great event to be at.”

The 2019 IIHF Hockey Development Camp continues for two more days before concluding on Friday afternoon.