Parker Milner has a job.
As editor of the Post and Courier in Charleston, SC, he covers the food scene of a tourist destination.
Good job if you can get it.
But his weekend concert differs from what he does on weekdays.
He’s a goaltender in 3ICE, the new three-on-three hockey league entering its inaugural season this summer.
On Saturday, the league, which is more of a touring entity, hosted its sixth week at PPG Paints Arena. Hailing from Mount Lebanon, Milner helped his team win the weekly title on Saturday.
But given the emphasis on offense, why on earth would someone with an otherwise peaceful professional existence in a coastal community want to submit to a part-time vocation where they serve little more than the target practice?
“You just go out and have fun,” said Milner, who played collegiately at Boston College and spent seven seasons between the American Hockey League and ECHL. “You know you’re going to give up goals pretty much every game. So you just competed. It’s a bit like when you’re a child starting out. You don’t really think about your goals-against average or your save percentage. You are just playing and having fun. That’s the mentality I have every game.
A total of six matches were held at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday as part of a tournament. Each bout consisted of two eight-minute periods with a running clock.
Milner’s team – nicknamed Team Trottier because former Penguins star Bryan Trottier is the coach – emerged with the Week 6 championship thanks to a 4-2 win over Team Murphy, who are led by another Penguins great, Larry Murphy.
“It’s very competitive,” said Murphy, a former Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman. “Obviously a different take on how to play this game. … It’s been an interesting process. Every week you learn more because it’s new. No one has ever done this before. You learn as you go. What should be ? What is the best approach? What do you need to stay away from? I really liked this process. I learned a lot.
Saturday’s games were the first held in an NHL building for 3ICE. Official numbers weren’t available, but nearly half of the available seats in the lower bowl appeared to have a body occupying them. According to league commissioner Craig Patrick, the former Penguins general manager who is still on the hunt for the team, Saturday’s turnout was the best yet for 3ICE.
There are some similarities to NHL play. There was a lot of skating and the players are always complaining about the officials. But Saturday’s display was certainly unique to the largely laid-back 3ICE brand.
Most obvious was the music that played throughout the competition. In addition, a skater cameraman, wearing referee’s stripes, is directly integrated into the action. Also, there are no penalties, only penalty shootouts.
Overall, Saturday’s matches felt more like a festival than a competition.
“I love the music,” said former Penguins forward Ryan Malone, currently a member of a team coached by former NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr. “It’s really cool. It’s pretty easy for guys to stay focused. You just catch your breath and just worry about breathing.
It remains to be seen what life 3ICE might take beyond this season. But the league hierarchy professes substantial optimism.
“We had 125 players signed up (for tryouts), and we only need 54,” said Patrick, who oversaw the recruitment of current and former professional players when the league was created. “We’ve had a lot of interest, and we’ll continue to have interest. The players who are watching it now and not playing are calling us up and saying, ‘I want to be there next year.’ The list is getting longer and longer. It will get better and better. »
Pleasure is one thing. Funds are another. And members of each team can earn up to six figures if they win the overall league championship after week nine.
“It’s fun and the payouts are pretty huge for the work we have to do,” Milner said. “It’s a big motivation, and I think it will help attract more players in the years to come.”
Malone added: “We had good turnouts everywhere. Now it’s getting bigger. The hockey world takes notice. Especially those guys who are in between contracts or fresh out of college, they’re like, “Oh damn, that looks kinda fun.” Making money over eight or nine weekends is pretty special.