If you’re a lapsed hockey fan that longs for the days when the NHL encouraged fighting and enforcers ruled the ice, then Ice Wars is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
Billed on their website as “the most extreme combat sport ever invented,” Ice Wars puts combatants in an octagonal ice rink in full hockey equipment, minus sticks and hockey gloves.
The format is similar to the UFC’s exhibition MMA bouts on The Ultimate Fighter and has competitors engage in two one-minute rounds. If neither fighter is knocked out or wins a decision, the fight goes to a third round to decide the winner.
While the bouts take place on a much smaller sheet of ice, the attire of both the combatants and referees is the same as you’d see in a traditional hockey game. One notable difference is that the fighters do wear MMA-style gloves, but from their helmets down to their skates they appear as ready to play 3 periods as they are to fight 3 rounds.
The promotion has hosted two events so far, and the most recent Ice Wars 2 on August 6 took place in front of a reported sold-out crowd of 2,500 fans in Enoch, Alberta.
“King Of The Rink”
Professional hockey player Justin Schmit became Ice Wars’ cruiserweight “King of the Rink” when he won the 8-man, 1-night tournament at Ice Wars 2. Speaking to Strathmore Now, Schmit commented on the difference between the organized fights and fighting during an actual hockey game.
“In a hockey fight a lot of times you obviously don’t know (when it will happen),” Schmit said. “A lot of time they happened spur of the moment, but this you know. I knew all the guys that were in my bracket and you kind of had the little bit of anticipated build up to it.”
A member of the US Federal Hockey League, Schmit was initially contacted by Ice Wars president AJ Galante in July about participating in Ice Wars 2. Galante’s name may be familiar to fans of Netflix’s Untold series, as he previously served as manager for the Danbury Trasher minor-league hockey team from the episode Untold: Crime & Penalties.
In addition to winning the cruiserweight tournament at Ice Wars 2, Schmit may have other pugilistic endeavors on the horizon. The “King of the Rink” has apparently signed a contract with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, and he also intends to participate in future Ice Wars events.
You can catch a glimpse of some of the action below!
Do you think Ice Wars can have success appealing to hockey fans that wish fighting was still a major part of the sport?