With Firkus coming off a hat trick against the Prince Albert Raiders and Wright a four-goal performance against the Brandon Wheat Kings, the potential would be there for a positive piece of news for the Tribe heading into their final weekend of the season.
Now, you’re asking, how is this possible, considering the WHL cancelled the remainder of the regular season earlier this week and games haven’t be played since Mar. 13?
Through the magic of EA Sports NHL 20 video game, an Xbox 1 console and Twitch.tv!
The Warriors have played three simulated games since the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports across Canada screeching to a halt, falling 20-19 to Prince Albert on Mar. 14, dropping a 9-2 decision in Winnipeg on Mar. 16 and scoring four in the third to take an 8-6 win over Brandon on Mar. 18.
All three contests have been treated as actual games by Warriors manager of video and web services Steven Turner, who has posted video highlights to Twitter much as the team would on a regular game night.
“He made sure our roster was up to date, we didn’t go anything with the lines and just hit simulate and let it go,” explained Warriors director of hockey administration James Gallo. “No one is playing it, we just let it do its own thing and see what happens.
“Then the way we would do a game, the set-up is Steven would do the tweeting of the goals and the hits and that kind of stuff, so we just decided we’d do the same thing we do as a normal game. The games are being simmed, he’s clipping and putting those clips out on social media and it’s pretty much the way we’d do a regular game.”
The plan came out of the Warriors looking to find a way to continue fan engagement in light of the season being cancelled with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
“[General manager] Alan [Millar] kind of talked to Steven and I and we were looking for ways to try and engage the fans a bit more in what is a tough time,” Gallo explained. “We did this last Thursday and then on Friday night we saw Brandon had done one and that kind of sparked us some more, so we went ahead and did it.
“It went over really well and we’ve just kind of kept at it.”
The games can be found at http://twitch.tv/mjwarriors and are free to view, with live streams starting at the same time as regular puck drop.
In case folks are wondering about the realism of watching such a stream, well, Mosaic Place has a distinctly NHL-arena feel to it and the video presentation is similar to an NHL broadcast, but the players and teams right down to the uniforms and rosters are identical.
EA Sports has been involved in the CHL for over a decade at this point, including a ‘Be A Pro’ mode where player can start their career in the WHL as a 16-year-old and play right through their hockey career through to retirement.
The realism of on-ice play can be jarring at points, seeming as realistic as an actual game at first glance. And that’s what drew the Warriors to the idea.
“Right now, everybody is looking for something to smile about and something to have fun with in a serious situation,” Gallo said. “It’s just a fun way to engage, I think right now at a time like this sports is secondary and this is also a way to have fun and make people smile, and having a chance to smile in a time like this can be pretty important.”
Next NHL 20 action for the Warriors will be Friday night when they travel to Regina to face the Pats on Friday and Saturday when the host Regina for their final regular season game. Stream time is 7 p.m. at http://twitch.tv/mjwarriors