Kevin Fitzgerald has worn the gold helmet as 3ICE's leading goal scorer, signed to play this fall in Finland
Former SCSU forward is enjoying his time in the new 3-on-3 professional hockey league, which has some unique rules. Fitzgerald discusses the league, his decision to play overseas and more on this episode of the Huskies Hockey Insider Podcast with The Rink Live's Mick Hatten.
Kevin Fitzgerald is getting a little taste of one tradition of European hockey.
In a number of European leagues, the league leader in points wears a gold helmet during games. For Fitzgerald, he wore the gold helmet on July 2 playing for Team Mullen in a 3ICE tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"Our team has played the most games and my teammates are super good," said Fitzgerald, a former St. Cloud State forward . "I've got maybe two assists, so I need to move the puck a little bit more.
"I'm playing defense, too. I'm not really playing defense, but my position is defense, which is something new."
Fitzgerald has 11 goals in nine games playing in the new 3-on-3 professional summer hockey league. The teams have played tournaments over the last three weekends in Las Vegas, Denver and Grand Rapids. This weekend, the 3ICE tournament will be in Hershey, Pa.
Each team has a former NHL great as its head coach and the team carries the coach's name. Fitzgerald plays for Hall of Fame forward Joe Mullen. Former St. Cloud State players Seamus Donohue and Ryan Malone play for Team Fuhr. Grant Fuhr was a six-time NHL All-Star as a goalie.
The other teams are Team (Bryan) Trottier, Team (John) LeClair, Team (Larry) Murphy and Team (Guy) Carbonneau. Each team dresses six skaters and a goalie and games are two eight-minute halves. The only time the clock stops is for injuries or penalties. Players do not go off the ice for penalties, though. A player is awarded a penalty shot and then the puck is in play after the shot.
"It's been a lot of fun," Fitzgerald said. "Just like the names involved are incredible: Joe Mullen, Grant Fuhr, Seamus Donohue, John LeClair — some really big names.
"We've got a pregame skate on Saturdays and I said to one of my teammates, 'Can you believe who we are on the ice with right now?' It's really cool and they are all super nice guys. It's such a crazy, cool experience."
Teams will play up to three games in a day. There are three opening round games and the three winners and the highest scoring Round 1 losing team advance to the semifinals. And then there is a championship game.
Players get a base salary and get paid more for winning. The games are televised on CBS Sports Network and the season culminates with the playoffs and championship on Aug. 20 in Las Vegas.
After the season is completed, Fitzgerald will play this fall for SaiPa to play in the top league in Finland in the city of Lappeenranta.
Fitzgerald discusses all this and more with The Rink Live's Mick Hatten on this episode of the Huskies Hockey Insider Podcast.
1:00 The travel so far in the 3ICE 3-on-3 hockey league, what it's been like to play in the league
2:30 What a weekend in the league looks like, a tournament for six teams
3:40 Number of players per game on a team, what to do in case of an injury
4:30 No checking allowed, no over-and-back in 3ICE, no faceoffs, no penalties, running into the on-ice camerman
7:50 Playing for Joe Mullen, being around Hall of Fame players after the game
9:25 Playing against Seamus Donohue, the size and skill of Ryan Malone
10:30 The incentive to win
11:25 Leading the league in goals, wearing the gold helmet
13:05 Signing to play for SaiPa to play in the top league in Finland in the city of Lappeenranta, the decision to play overseas
15:50 What has he heard about the style of play in Finland from Jami Krannila and Veeti Miettinen?
18:12 What a typical week has been like with playing every weekend
20:20 What kind of shape he is in while playing competitively during a summer vs. past offseasons, laying off the hot dogs
22:00 Goalies being able to play the puck anywhere in 3ICE
23:15 Puck stays in play off the netting in 3ICE, the break between halves, the time between games in the tournaments
26:00 Parents, friends attend their first 3ICE games in Grand Rapids, Mich.