She’s taken the hockey world by storm several times over — two-time best defender honors at the U18 tournament, an NCAA title, and bronze and silver medals at the senior team level will do that for a player — but PWHPA and Team Canada defender Erin Ambrose is ready to make her mark on the world of virtual hockey too.
In July, Ambrose was invited to participate in the Sportsnet Bracket Challenge, an NHL20 tournament between professional hockey players and media personalities. She came in second in the tournament, losing in the championship to Columbus Blue Jacket Zach Werenski, who she admits is “a really good gamer.”
“I didn’t quite have any expectations going into the Sportsnet tournament,” Ambrose confesses. “I truly did just want to get through one round and everything after that was such a bonus. I think after I beat Evander Kane in the second round, I thought I had a chance to maybe win.”
While she didn’t end up winning the tournament, as runner-up, she was able to earn a $5,000 donation to her charity of choice: the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a psychiatric teaching hospital network in Ontario.
Now, at the start of December, Ambrose is slated to participate in the CHL’s Memorial eCup, a virtual NHL21 tournament between representatives of each junior hockey team in the CHL and a handful of special guests.
“I feel like these young guys are going to be really good,” says Ambrose. “I definitely am not a fancy NHL21 player, so I may have to keep it simple, clog up the middle and play defense first.”
On Dec. 2, she’ll square off against Barrie Colts forward Luke Bignell in the preliminary round of the CHL tournament. Her strategy to emerge victorious is not unconventional, but maybe a little sneaky if you ask us.
“I will definitely just throw out some light chirps early to see how he responds. I’m a big trash talker once I get the headsets on!” she adds.
Ambrose is keeping her expectations for the Memorial eCup low, just as they were for the Sportsnet challenge. While success — and another bid to the championship round — would definitely be a bonus, she’s determined to make the most of her experience and “get to know some [players] and just enjoy some online gaming.”
Her easygoing attitude is in part facilitated in part by her history with gaming.
“Honestly, I have always casually played,” says Ambrose. “I remember in college, I would always play NHL as my pregame routine. There has never really been a time where I would consider myself a [serious] gamer, but I have always had a console to play on.”
While she mainlines NHL20, she’s also dabbled in Fortnite during the pandemic and considers it a great way to catch up with friends — after all, Fortnite is more team-oriented (as we know), while most iterations of NHL are better suited to 1v1 and some trash talking of the competition.
Though most of her competition comes from friends and family, Ambrose is also able to provide some insight on who Team Canada’s up and coming video game stars could be.
“Geneviève [Lacasse] is definitely the biggest gamer on the team but I’ve never played with her,” Ambrose says, “so maybe I will have to get that set up. I’m waiting for some NHL matchups so anybody reading this, let’s play!”
Ambrose will face off against OHL forward Luke Bignell on December 2 at 6:05 PM EST. The game will be streamed live on the CHL’s Twitch channel here.