As they patiently await their return to the ice, several members of the Florida Panthers have been able to scratch their competitive itch while playing video games during the NHL’s pause.
And whether it’s NHL20, Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone, these Cats have been showing off their skills with a controller both among themselves as well as outside tournaments and events.
“It’s fun,” Panthers defenseman Riley Stillman said earlier this month when asked about the team’s gaming crew. “You get some of those feelings that you miss from being at the rink every day. It’s nice to chat with those guys and hopefully we can get back to playing hockey soon.”
Jonathan Huberdeau became the first player to step into the gaming spotlight when he crushed Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov in NHL20 during the NHL Player Gaming Challenge. After cruising to a 7-3 win in the first game, he completed the series sweep with a 5-2 win in Game 2.
Likely the best part of the stream, however, came in the first few minutes of Game 1.
On his first rush up the ice, Huberdeau opened the scoring on a goal from… himself!
“Oh, Jonny!,” he shouted before both himself and Kuznetsov burst into laughter.
Not long after Huberdeau’s big win, teammate Dominic Toninato participated in the “NHLPA Open,” a Fortnite tournament created by NHLPA Members J.T. Compher and Zach Hyman.
Joining Joel Lowry and Mason Marchment to form Florida’s squad, Toninato and his crew finished 14th out of 22 teams, with the Blues trio of Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou and Vince Dunn taking home the grand prize of $200,000 to donate between charities of their choosing.
The tournament was streamed live on ESPN’s E-Sports Channel on Twitch.
“We had a lot of guys wanting to be part of it,” Compher told the NHLPA’s website. “That was great to see. Obviously, a lot of the guys enjoy playing Fortnite, and they also appreciate any chance to help out good causes. We definitely had a great turnout.”
It’s important to remember that gaming isn’t always a competition.
It can also be just a great way to hang out and catch up with friends.
Case in point: Keith Yandle.
On Tuesday, the Panthers defenseman competed against Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in a few games of NHL20 as part of an ongoing event run by Spittin’ Chiclets. As the game went on, he cracked jokes with Matthews and, of course, hosts Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney.
Also, like Huberdeau, Yandle also had a lot fun showing off with his virtual self.
“What a play by Keith! Did you see that dish by me?” he shouted after one goal.
Even NHL mascots have been getting in on the action.
Stanley C. Panther recently participated in the “Bailey Cup,” an NHL20 tournament hosted by Kings mascot Bailey. And although he won’t be playing for the championship after taking the “L” in his best-of-three matchup with Stinger of the Blue Jackets, he certainly had a whole lot of fun.
With the launch of their new Twitch account, the Panthers are also looking forward to bringing fans, broadcasters, and players closer together through gaming. If you’d like to be informed when these streams are happening, make sure to follow the stream by visiting Twitch.tv/FlaPanthers.
On the Panthers most-recent broadcast, FOX Sport Florida sideline reporters Jessica Blaylock and Katie Gaus joined Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive to play Jackbox with some Cats fans.
As you can see in the clip below, things didn’t turn out too well for Katie!
Watch Katie is NOT an alien! from flapanthers on www.twitch.tv
Stay tuned each week for new streams!