New “Ice Wars” League Will Pit Hockey Enforcers Against Each Other in Bouts

The league will debut with an eight-man "King of the Rink" heavyweight tournament on May 21

Two hockey players from opposing teams fighting on the ice.
Two hockey players from opposing teams fighting on the ice.
Getty Images

About 15 years ago during the 2006-07 season in the National Hockey League, fans would routinely go to fights and hockey games would break out. It’s a dumb joke that deserves to be put on ice, but it was rooted in truth back then as 384 games that season, 31.2%, featured at least one fighting major.

That was then. Now, the NHL is a cleaner, faster game and teams rarely employ fourth-line goons whose main job is to use their fists, not their stick. Fights are way down, and some are even calling for them to be banned from pro hockey entirely, for valid reasons.

Founded by A.J. Galante, who became the head of the now-defunct minor-league hockey team the Danbury Trashers when he was just 17 years old and was once suspended after being accused of slugging a referee and giving him a fat lip, a new upstart sports league is hoping to bring back the hockey fight — without the hockey.

Ice Wars International will pit hockey enforcers against each other in a rink on ice for a pair of one-minute bouts. While a TKO or KO can end the fight, a winner can also be determined by points scoring at the end of the two rounds. Unlike in the NHL, where players use their bare knuckles, Ice Wars brawlers will wear UFC-style gloves while they try to get one another to hit the ice.

“I’m calling it prizefighting on ice because at the end of the day, there is no hockey being played,” Galante told Reuters. “There are no sticks, there are no pucks, there are no nets. So yes, it’s full hockey gear and it will predominantly be current hockey players. But it’s prizefighting with a purse on the line.”

Daniel Amesbury, a career minor leaguer with far more penalty minutes than points and an extensive history on the Hockey Fights website, said a competition like Ice Wars was “something that I’ve always had in the back of my mind.”

“Six months ago I was saying to my buddy that it’s too bad there isn’t some sport where I can take advantage of this unique skill that I have,” he said. “An average hockey fight is probably under 20 seconds. So one minute is a long fight. It’s a lot of action. There’s going to be a lot of punches being thrown and there’s going to be a lot of blood. It’s going to be fun, man.”

Streaming on FITE, Ice Wars will debut with an eight-man “King of the Rink” heavyweight tournament on May 21.

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