Local athlete crowned King of the Rink in up-and-coming sport

·2 min read

For the folks who enjoy watching a good brawl, an emerging new sporting series aims to have audiences cheering at the edge of their seats.

Ice Wars is a series by AJ Galante which, in essence, boils hockey down to just the fights in an eight-man tournament.

Strathmore’s Justin Schmit is the most recent athlete to be crowned “King of the Rink” after his victory in the Ice Wars arena in Enoch, Alta. on Aug. 6.

“It’s definitely something that hasn’t been seen, but … people really jumped on board and the fights themselves are super exciting,” said Schmit. “I don’t think anybody that bought the pay per view, or anybody that bought a ticket was really disappointed by it.”

Competing athletes are geared effectively similar to hockey players, skates and all, and are set into an octagonal ring to duke it out. The whole series is comprised of hockey style fights, by professional athletes, in hockey gear.

Schmit, having experience in boxing, mixed martial arts and hockey said he was excited to jump at the chance to participate.

“I’ve known AJ for quite a while and we started discussing it last December when I was up in up in Danbury,” said Schmit. “Him and I got talking and you know, we started discussing the possibility of having a tournament like this. I actually didn’t plan on coming back to Canada this offseason, so I was like, ‘well, you know, if it happens to take place in United States, I’d love to be a part of it.’”

Instead, Schmit described being back at home in Strathmore by happenstance when it was suggested to him that he participate in the August event at Enoch, at which he ultimately took home the win.

Schmit described his athletic history as beginning early and being introduced to both boxing and hockey, which lead into a 20-year professional career on the ice.

Schmit’s time as a mixed martial artist was done during the off-season from the rink, with his first professional fight taking place in 2009.

The aim for continuing to develop Ice Wars is to get enough traction for it to be picked up by a streaming service, according to Schmit. The team behind it is hoping to ride their initial momentum gained during their pay-per-view run.

Schmit added that if he is given another opportunity to compete, he won’t hesitate to come out and do so.

“This was the easiest organization I’ve ever had to compete for,” said Schmit. “It was just first class and to have an opportunity to defend my title whenever the next event takes place, hopefully I can make sure I’m a part of it.”

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times