Three-on-three ice hockey featured at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games ©Getty Images

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Council has presented details of a Strategic Plan for 2022 to 2026 to the Congress in Tampere, which includes plans for the three-on-three version of the sport to be established as an official discipline and brand.

The Council, led by IIHF President Luc Tardif, was elected for a five-year term at last year's Semi-Annual Congress in September.

Tardif triumphed in a five-man race to succeed René Fasel, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) honorary member, who stepped down having led the IIHF since 1994.

Three-on-three ice hockey debuted at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, and Tardif had referenced it during his election campaign as "good for a developing country".

The French official insisted "we should experiment and not be conservative".

Under the Strategic Plan, officially branded as 'ICE26', the IIHF plans to establish three-on-three ice hockey as a new discipline and brand, with Swedish Council member Anders Larsson revealing that it could aim to feature "maybe even at the Olympics one day".

Plans for a member National Association mentorship programme were also presented to the Congress, with a development director to work at the IIHF office from July, promotional campaigns to be established and a new women's ice hockey brand and competition structure to be discussed with the aim of bringing more opportunities.

These ideas feature as part of the expansion element of the Strategic Plan, with innovation and collaboration also covered.

Under the innovation part of the plan, a digital transformation programme and a reduction in the sport's environmental impact were presented to the Congress.

"The appeal of our top events should be maximised," Council member Raeto Raffainer of Switzerland argued.

The IIHF Council is headed by Frenchman Luc Tardif, who succeeded the long-serving René Fasel as President last year ©Getty Images
The IIHF Council is headed by Frenchman Luc Tardif, who succeeded the long-serving René Fasel as President last year ©Getty Images

"We offer more than 40 tournaments a year, more than other team sports.

"We must explore ways to maximise our resources for the benefit of the sport.

"We have listened over the last few months and must continue to do so."

Danish Council member Henrik Bach Nielsen unveiled plans under the collaboration segment, including the goal for an annual global hockey forum and discussions with the IOC on the exposure of ice hockey at the Winter Olympics and Winter Youth Olympics.

"We could survive continuing as we did," Bach Nielsen said.

"But we will be a stronger sport and organisation if we tackle these initiatives that are the right priorities right now.

"This is just the beginning.

"There’s a lot of work to do, let’s hit the ice."

The IIHF said that its presentation followed various surveys conducted, including with fans, National Associations, media, sponsors and partners.

The Congress was held alongside the IIHF Men's World Championship in Tampere.

It ratified a ban on Russia and Belarus competing at World Championship events in 2023, and awarded next year's Men's World Championship to Finland and Latvia in place of Saint Petersburg.