When it came to the EA SPORTS NHL20 Gaming Challenge, NHL Buffalo Sabres defence-man Brandon Montour definitely had game.
This much anticipated Gaming Challenge had representatives from all 31 NHL teams, plus expansion team Seattle.
On Thursday, May 28, it was Montour’s turn to shine as he went head-to-head in an epic Eastern Conference showdown against his friend, New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. Making a statement with his video game controller, Montour impressed by pulling off what was a best out of three EA Sports NHL 20 Game Challenge sweep by scores of 4-2, 4-1 and 5-1.
“I had more time to get ready for this game,” Montour said. “He came on pretty late and had to get ready and do it, so I think I was more prepared, and I think that was all she wrote.”
These two athletes, who competed from the comfort of their own living rooms, went at it in matches which were being streamed for fans’ entertainment on social outlets such as facebook, twitter, NHL Twitch page and YouTube. Also getting involved was the NBC Sports Network which had each matchup on tv.
The format for the NHL Gaming Challenge consisted of four weeks worth of individual games and not tournaments, with games being held only on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Naturally, fans tuning in, got to see some intriguing subplots including ex- teammates going head- to- head from their living room couch or even brothers, such as Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk competing against younger brother Brady, who plays for the Ottawa Senators.
What made the match-up between Montour and Blackwood so intriguing was that they were both former teammates on the 2019 Team Canada World Championship squad which won silver. During the first game, Montour was asked by broadcaster Alex Faust about his experience of winning the silver medal. “It was kind of tough for me. I started there and unfortunately after I think two games, I got hurt with a pretty serious knee injury and I couldn’t finish,” Montour said. Montour later on in his conversation also added, “The experience was good for what I got. Injuries happen. it’s tough for me to have that, but it was alright for myself.”
Playing for Team Canada was the first time these athletes met and they have since become good friends.
After Montour, completed the sweep, Blackwood showed great sportsmanship as he enthusiastically stated,
“I’m going to be practicing all year for this one. Congrats Brandon. The better player won today, and I’m just going to keep practicing at it.”
Meanwhile, this NHL Gaming Challenge gave fans an opportunity to see their NHL heroes, such as Montour in a relaxed atmosphere from their homes. It also allowed fans to be entertained as players regularly dished out some humorous chirps to one another while answering questions from Faust about their careers or life away from the rink. Showing true compassion Electronics Arts, which is the company responsible for “NHL 20” and NHL Foundation, has graciously donated a total of $100,00 to support COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.