Way back in 2006 a man by the name of Darryl Wolski had the insane genius idea of hosting a combat sports event made up entirely of minor league hockey players, scrapping it out in an ice rink in front of a live audience. ‘Battle of the Hockey Enforcers’ took place at the CN Center in Prince George, BC, Canada, in front of a crowd of 2000 spectators.
Initially planned for 31 fights in a round-robin formatted tournament, the event ended up limited to just 19 bouts due to injuries—with four men making it to a final bracketed tournament. From all that chaos, UHL vet Dean Mayrand took home the grand prize of $62,250. A planned followup for later that year was ultimately cancelled.
16-years later, however, and it seems Wolski’s dream has returned in the form of Ice Wars International. Headed up by former Danbury Trashers president AJ Galante, son of disgraced garbage mogul James Galante, IWI is set to host four hockey-fight events in 2022.
Reportedly connected to the Genovese crime family, James Galante served 12 months in prison for tax evasion in 1999. In 2004 he spearheaded the creation of the now defunct United Hockey League (UHL) expansion team the Danbury Trashers. The Trashers lasted for two seasons before Galante found himself indicted on a vast array of charges both related to his waste removal business and his handling of the Trashers. Notably using ‘no-show’ jobs with his garbage companies to pay players and players’ family members, in order to exceed the UHL’s $275,000 team salary cap. The Trashers actual payroll was estimated in the range of $750,000.
James Galante served seven years in prison after admitting to multiple RICO violations including wire fraud and tax evasion, forcing the forfeiture of control of his waste management companies and several million dollars in assets. A documentary on the brief history of the Danbury Trashers was recently released on Netflix.
While James Galante owned the Trashers, his son AJ presided over the team’s day-to-day operations. It appears AJ is now back in the hockey business with Ice Wars 1. The event, which bills itself as the spiritual successor to Wolski’s ‘Battle of the Hockey Enforcers’, went down this last Saturday, May 21st in Edmonton, Alberta, CA.
The card featured an 8-man one-night tournament, along with two ‘grudge match’ bouts, all using MMA gloves and full hockey gear (minus sticks)—with each tournament fight consisting of two one-minute rounds. ‘Diamond Hands’ Daniel Amesbury walked away with the inaugural title of ‘King of the Rink.’ Check out the highlights below.
No word yet on when the next Ice Wars event will take place. But, as long as some not-insignificant legal concerns don’t rear their head, it appears that Fight Circus could have a serious run for its title of most carnival-ized combat sports promotion in 2022.