The Ducks participated in the first-ever American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) eSports Challenge hosted by the Washington Capitals on Sunday, June 6. A total of 48 special hockey athletes from 48 cities across the U.S. and Canada played EA SPORTS™ NHL® 21 in an adaptive virtual tournament that raised $70,000 for ASHA programming. The ASHA eSports Challenge powered by Bauer was supported by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. The broadcast saw 143,128 live viewers.
The Ducks’ participation in the adaptive virtual tournament helped reach the $70,000 in addition to awareness for the event. A portion of the funds raised will be donated via the Anaheim Ducks Foundation to the San Diego Gulls Special Hockey club and the Anaheim Ducks Top Flight Hockey Programs, street hockey, ice skating and ice hockey programs designed for special needs individuals of all ages and abilities.
Each player represented their home ASHA teams to compete for prizes and raise awareness toward special hockey. The Ducks joined nine other NHL clubs in supporting the event. The tournament followed seven weeks of practice and over 960 volunteer hours.
The event was hosted by NHL eSports and Bauer athlete Andrew “Nasher” Telfer, and Anaheim Ducks Gaming presented by McDonald’s of Southern California esports broadcaster Teagan “ItsKingLyme” Blair provided commentary during the tournament. Throughout the process, guest stars joined in to support the 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 also participated in the challenge to support the eSports athletes.
Fans were invited to support special hockey and can still do so by texting “ASHA eSports” to 71777. All proceeds will benefit special hockey programming.
ASHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities through the sport of hockey. ASHA provides an environment of learning, mutual respect and a sense of community to 5,000 participants in over 100 programs across the United States of America. To learn more, visit SpecialHockey.org.
About Anaheim Ducks Top Flight Hockey Programs
Launched in 2013 by the Anaheim Ducks and The Rinks, Top Flight started as a street hockey league designed for special needs individuals of all ages and abilities. It has since expanded to include street hockey, ice skating, ice hockey, as well as various free events throughout the year for the special needs community.
About San Diego Gulls Special Hockey
San Diego Gulls Special Hockey is an athlete-centered hockey program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Funded by The Rinks and Anaheim Ducks Foundation, the goal is to build confidence and promote a sense of community through a full hockey experience of practice and skill development, playing games and traveling to tournaments. San Diego Gulls Special Hockey is guided by the values of good sportsmanship, honesty and respect for all individuals, with the hope our athletes have a lifetime of playing and competing in hockey.