Leafs’ Hyman, Knights duo win Gaming Challenge matches

Leafs’ Hyman, Knights duo win Gaming Challenge matches

Toronto Maple Leafs left winger Zach Hyman showed off his esports abilities on Thursday, winning two of three games against Philadelphia Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk in the NHL Player Gaming Challenge.

In the day’s other matchup, the Vegas Golden Knights pair of right wingers Ryan Reaves and Alex Tuch pulled out a 2-1 series win over the Vancouver Canucks duo of goalie Thatcher Demko and center Adam Gaudette.

The online video-game event is streaming action on Thursdays and Saturdays. All 31 NHL teams will have representation, and Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson represented the pending NHL Seattle expansion team.

No standings are being compiled, as the games are designed strictly for entertainment with the NHL season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In connection with the event, the National Hockey League Foundation and Electronic Arts are donating $100,000 to the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

Hyman has his own esports organization and boasts almost 11,000 Twitch followers.

“I’m pretty passionate about gaming,” he said.

He then went out and defeated van Riemsdyk, his Toronto teammate from 2015-16 to 2017-18, by scores of 4-3 and 7-6 in double overtime. They played their third game in Threes mode (three skaters and a goalie per side), and van Riemsdyk pulled out a 10-9 win.

In the opener, Hyman took a 4-2 lead on short-handed goal with 9.8 seconds left. van Riemsdyk got a goal back on a penalty shot with four seconds to go, but Hyman held on for the 4-3 win.

Hyman jumped in front 5-1 in the second period of the second game. van Riemsdyk tied it 5-5 with 2:44 left in the third when Hyman’s puppy momentarily distracted him.

The game went to overtime at 6-6 before Toronto scored the winning goal on a tip-in 24 seconds into the second OT. The score mirrored a real-life result on March 15, 2019, in Toronto.

Hyman said, “7-6 Leafs, just like last year. What a comeback, too.”

van Riemsdyk replied, “Just heartbreaking.”

In the Threes game, set up for the first team to 10 goals getting the win, the game progressed to a 9-9 tie. van Riemsdyk finally got a penalty-shot goal from a virtual Claude Giroux to claim the victory.

“I needed that for my pride,” van Riemsdyk said.

In the two-on-two matchup, the Golden Knights’ Tuch and Reaves recorded a 5-2 win on Threes to claim the decisive third game.

The Golden Knights had won the opener 4-3 despite giving up a goal by a virtual Brock Boeser with 0.9 seconds to play.

“Don’t count us out of it,” Demko said of the series after the defeat.

He and Gaudette claimed the second game 3-1 before Reaves and Tuch wrapped up the match.

Demko and Tuch are former Boston College teammates.

NHL Player Gaming Challenge action resumes Saturday with Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete and center Nick Suzuki opposing St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and center Robert Thomas.

Matches are available for viewing on the NHL’s Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook platforms.