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Extreme combat sport set to debut in the US offers hockey fights without the hockey

  Fighting in the NHL has   reportedly   dropped to historic lows in recent years even though fighting has long been an   official component...

 Fighting in the NHL has reportedly dropped to historic lows in recent years even though fighting has long been an official component of the game. Partly as a consequence of a shift in focus and culture, the goons of yesteryear appear to be afforded fewer opportunities to earn penalty minutes, while finesse players increasingly skate over the blue line without fear or broken smiles.

Americans keen on a guarantee of a hockey-style donnybrook but willing to forgo the game of hockey are now in luck. A new blood sport promising just that is scheduled to debut in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on July 15. 

The Cowboy State Daily reported that after previous events in western Canada, "Ice Wars" is coming to the Outlaw Saloon, in part, because Ice Wars event president Charlie Nama promised Bryan Pedersen, founder of the Wyoming Combat Sports Commission, that "the first U.S. event would be in Cheyenne." 

"I know he's hoping the city, the state, will be the home base for this growing sport," said Nama.

Wyoming and Florida are the only two states in the union to sanction the event.

Ice Wars International is touted as the "most extreme combat sport ever invented and a fascinating new world where only those rough enough, tough enough, and skilled enough will come out on top." 

All fights, waged with MMA gloves, consist of two one-minute rounds on the ice with a 30-second "ice breaker" in between. Knockouts or technical knockouts end the fights.

The rules prohibit head-butting, kicking, biting, hair-pulling, kneeing, tripping, and hand-holding. Additionally, helmets and gloves are required wearing for the duration of the fight.

A prototype for this burgeoning sport, namely the Battle of the Hockey Enforcers event held in British Columbia in 2005, staged its fights on a portion of an hockey rink. Ice Wars reportedly uses Nama's "Ice Box," a 900-square-foot mobile arena resembling the MMA octagon.

A.J. Galante, the founder of the sport, told Reuters last year ahead of an Ice Wars bout in Edmonton, Alberta, "I'm calling it prize fighting on ice because at the end of the day, there is no hockey being played. ... 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 prize fighting with a purse on the line."

So-called ice warrior Daniel Amesbury indicated enforcers from the American Hockey League and other leagues will likely enter future competitions hoping to do some damage at center ice, but are in for a learning curve.

"An average hockey fight is probably under 20 seconds," said Amesbury. "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."

Ice Wars indicated in a statement that the Cheyenne event "will feature a 9-man round robin style competition, with each round getting progressively more difficult, and with the lone survivor being crowned 'King of the Rink'! In addition, we will have a heavy weight grudge match and a complementary [sic] fight preview."

While Ice Wars may satisfy some hockey fans' blood lust, it's yet to be seen if it can recapture the magic of some of professional hockey's most iconic brawls.

NBC News has compiled a top ten of some notable ice battles:

Top 10 NHL fights of all time | NBC

Of course, Ice Wars' octagon would be unable to contain the "Punch-up in Piestany," where the whole of the Canadian junior team dropped the gloves and battled their Soviet counterparts in the final game of the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Czechoslovakia:

1987 WJHC - Canada vs Russia

Here, by way of contrast, are highlights from a previous Ice Wars competition:

Ice Wars || Watch "Diamond Hands" Daniel Amesbury || Full Fight  

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