Capitals to Host First-Ever American Special Hockey Association Esports Challenge on Caps Gaming Twitch Channel June 6th, 2021
48 Special Hockey Athletes from Across the U.S. and Canada to Play EA SPORTS NHL 21 in an adaptive virtual tournament supported by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Capitals and Caps Gaming will host the first-ever American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) Esports Challenge on the Capitals Twitch Channel on Sunday, June 6th, 2021 starting at noon.
A total of 48 special hockey athletes from the United States and Canada will play EA SPORTS NHL 21 in an adaptive virtual tournament. Each player will represent their home ASHA teams to compete for prizes and raise awareness toward special hockey. The Capitals will be joined by nine other NHL clubs and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. in supporting the event.
NHL Esports athlete and Bauer athlete Andrew “Nasher” Telfer will host the event and be joined by guest stars in support of the special hockey athletes. In addition, 16 of the top EA SPORTS NHL 21 competitive players volunteered to coach a team, guiding the athletes each step of the way from setting up their console to scoring their first goal. A dozen celebrity coaches and mascots from 10 NHL Teams are also participating in the challenge to support the Esports athletes.
“What started out as a small idea, the ASHA Esports Challenge has grown into a much larger opportunity for our athletes and families,” said Jen O’Brien, ASHA executive director. “Many of us were largely unaware of Esportsand couldn’t have imagined the incredible impact we have seen. Where special hockey athletes were isolating and growing increasingly detached due to the pandemic, they are now engaging. They’ve all made new friends and worked together to break through barriers. Every one of them has reached beyond their comfort zones to be a part of this and learned how to stay connected. Their confidence and sense of connection have really grown.”
Fans can support special hockey by texting “ASHA Esports” to 71777. Each ASHA Esports Challenge athlete is raising funds in support of their home special hockey team. All proceeds will benefit special hockey programming. To date, the pledge campaign has raised more than $26,000. In recognition of its longstanding support for ASHA’s mission and programs, the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. has pledged an additional $10,000 grant.
“As soon as this tournament was announced, we received an overwhelming amount of support from top gamers, creators, and fans in the NHL Esports community,” said Jordan Zelniker, Caps Gaming manager of Esports business operations. “Players from all over the country stepped up to help coach and assist in the ASHA Esports challenge. This platform has become an incredible outlet to connect players & coaches of all different backgrounds and skill levels to compete with each other through gaming.”
“When we talk about making the game of hockey accessible for everyone, we are referring to all forms of the game,” said Peter Robinson, Capitals director of youth hockey development. “Whether that is playing on-ice or off-ice hockey, watching games on TV, using hockey as a teaching tool in school, or following teams and players on social media, the goal is to access. The ASHA EsportsChallenge is a perfect example of how providing people an opportunity to play hockey in a new, virtual format, allows them to join the hockey community and engage with others.”