Around this time each year, thousands of hockey players across the country lace up skates, tape up sticks and score their first goals of the new NHL season.
Virtually, to be clear.
That’s because those ‘players’ are hockey fans, gearing up their excitement for the new NHL campaign by buying the latest edition of the EA Sports NHL video game franchise, NHL 15.
As soon as the clock turned from 11:59 p.m. Monday night to 12:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, gamers who had lined up inside various EB Games stores in Toronto were able to purchase their copy.
“I like to get the game right away to get an early start to be on the leaderboards,” said Suleimon Raji at the midnight launch near the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto.
NHL 15 allows gamers to immerse themselves within the sport. Players can control everything from undrafted prospects on their journey to the draft, general managers making important personnel decisions and teams battling on their quest to raise the Stanley Cup.
This year’s edition features Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron on the cover after he won an online fan vote.
It will be the first time that the game will be released on the new generation of consoles, the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
However, with the new system release, there are some online modes that are only available to be played on the older systems.
GM Connected and EASHL, two of the more popular online modes that allow users to team up with fellow players online to take on other connected teams, are not available on the new consoles.
“I’m not really happy with the content of the game this year because there’s no [EASHL] for the Xbox One, so I’m sticking with the [older Xbox] 360 version to play club this year,” Raji said. “I won’t buy the new [console version] until they have the online for all the content.”
Raji’s bought the game every year since 2000.
“I look forward to playing with the updated rosters,” said Joseph Leszner. “Being able to play with [last year’s] rookies who are finally ranked well makes it more realistic.”
Proudly wearing his Nazem Kadri jersey while waiting in line with approximately 20 others, Matt Shantz is excited to use Kadri and the rest of his favourite Toronto Maple Leafs in the game.
“I wanted to get the game first. My roommate is on his way back from a night shift and we will be playing the game all night,” Shantz said.
(Video: NHL 15 developer Sean Ramjagsingh talks about the game’s new features)