In the world of hockey video games, there's really only one. EA Sports' NHL franchise has been everyone's go-to hockey for over thirty years. In fact, it is so dominant that it's been over a decade since another gaming company even tried to challenge EA Sports for its hockey crown.
But despite all of that success, the game hasn't been without some room for improvement. Most specifically? The lack of female players! This is something that other huge EA Sports titles—such as FIFA (soccer) and NBA (basketball)—have been doing for a while now. But now, hockey's wait is finally over.
As of later this month, women's national teams will be available to play in NHL 22! From Team Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner to Team USA's Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel, these top stars of the women's game will finally get their chance to shine on gaming consoles from coast to coast.
What can we expect?
The teams will be available as a download for people who already own NHL 22 (which is available for either Playstation or Xbox). It is all a part of the IIHF update—the IIHF is the International Ice Hockey Federation, which looks after competitions between countries outside of the Olympics. These include the annual Men's and Women's World Championships, as well as tournaments for younger players. The most famous of these younger tournaments is the Under-20 World Juniors, which happens during the year-end each year.
This update was started in December with the Men's and World Junior teams being added. (This ended up being a nice gesture since the actual World Juniors—which were held in Alberta—ended up being cancelled due to COVID.)
The final piece of the puzzle—the women's teams—is due in a matter of weeks, or even days. The update will offer the full current national team roster of ten teams, including Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, and Finland. This will mark the first time that any of these players have been playable in a video game.
In an interview with ESPN, current Team USA star Kendall Coyne Schofield was extremely excited about the change. "A lot of us grew up without seeing role models on a consistent basis. We'd go to NHL games and never see anyone that looked like us," she said. "I'm so excited to see what kind of effect this is going to have on the next generations."
Time to face off!
'Next generations' like you, perhaps?
For us, we think that it is a long past time that we got to play out one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports—Canada vs. USA for the women's ice hockey championship. Kendall is right, this is so exciting!
Are you pumped to play as Sarah Nurse or Megan Keller? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and watch the trailer for the new edition, featuring appearances by video game versions of Poulin and Knight.