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As Patrik Laine climbed the ranks of youth hockey in Finland Ben Bishop Jersey , he learned about the NHL from video games.”I learned probably just about the players,” the Winnipeg Jets star said. ”Nowadays it’s super realistic, and you can just pretty much see how everybody is playing and how good they are.”It’s about to get even more real with the NHL following the lead of the NBA, NFL, FIFA and other leagues in establishing a presence in a burgeoning esports market. The 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship, launched Friday, is a first step toward a potential version of the season-long NBA 2K League that’s set to begin in May or perhaps eMLS on FIFA 18.”You’re really both tapping into and expanding the existing fan base of the game,” said NBC Sports executive Rob Simmelkjaer, who got his introduction to hockey from playing ”NHL 94” on Sega Genesis. ”I think that’s something that the NHL can benefit from by putting esports front and center in the way that they market their sport.”Players will be able to match up 1-on-1 in EA Sports NHL 18 qualification rounds. That will be followed by regional finals in the United States, Canada and Europe on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and then the June 19 championship at Esports Arena Las Vegas during the NHL Awards with a prize pool of $100,000.The hope is to land new fans and connect with current fans in a different way.”This is really at its embryonic stage http://www.officialstarsproonline.com/authentic-adidas-brett-ritchie-jersey ,” NHL executive vice president and chief revenue officer Keith Wachtel said. ”This is the most basic way for our fans to play. We’re also going to explore in the future the opportunity, and we’re going to test this with some of the guys at the regional tournaments and the final, maybe a two-versus-two or a three-versus-three.”WorldGaming and Collegiate StarLeague are already experimenting with gaming at movie theaters in Canada and are in the midst of the Snider Hockey Cup tournament on EA Sports NHL 18 with the finals taking place March 22 in Philadelphia, next to the Flyers‘ arena.”After the response we got to this tournament, we worked closely with the NHL and Electronic Arts for this program,” WorldGaming and Collegiate StarLeague CEO Wim Stocks said. ”They’re going to be in the marketplace with really cool esports programming in the very near future.”Sports-based esports have a long way to go to catch up to fighting games like ”Dota,” ”League of Legends” and ”Counter-Strike,” but National Amusements programming and corporate development executive Kevin Mitchell doesn’t believe the NHL needs to worry.”Console gaming is just now starting to take off,” said Mitchell, who also teaches esports at Emerson College in Boston. ”I think it’s really just coming up with an ambidextrous strategy on finding ways to integrate with their traditional fan base and finding ways to create cross-over engagement for this new generation that has been primarily consuming content online.”Mitchell thinks esports ventures are ways for leagues to make fans of young people who get their sports largely through their smartphones or computers. According to Newzoo’s 2016 Esports Consumer Insights, 28 percent of hockey fans are 21-35, while 49 percent of esports enthusiasts are in that age bracket.”We have a very attractive fan base Adam Clendening Jersey Womens ,” Wachtel said. ”It’s young, it’s very tech-savvy, and millennials these days, which is really the gamer, are consuming sports in a much different way.”For a sport grappling with challenges of getting kids interested in hockey in places where ice time and equipment can be expensive and difficult to come by, this is another possible route. Mitchell said about 50 U.S. colleges now offer esports scholarships and expects more development at youth levels as they become more popular.NBC Sports in the U.S., Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and Viasat in Europe will promote the event, airing regional finals and the championship and putting highlights on TV around playoff games.How it goes will help determine the NHL’s next steps.”We don’t really have a statement on what the future holds other than we’re going to be active in one way, shape or form,” said Chris Golier, NHL vice president of business development. ”We’re going to have a lot of involvement and conversation with a lot of the top gamers, as well Devin Shore Jersey , make sure that it’s fun, engaging, the content works and we’ll revise as we see fit going forward.”Esports might be a way for the NHL to grow its audience in China, where it is already broadcasting regular-season games and hosting exhibitions ahead of the 2022 Olympics.”China is a huge gaming population,” Stocks said. ”What better way to help bring the game of hockey to China than through video gaming? I think the NHL has a great opportunity.”— GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Celebrating several of their season-high seven goals to the strains of “Werewolves of London,” Arizona took a bite out of Tampa Bay in a 7-1 victory Saturday.And a Coyotes‘ team that was shut out in three of its first four games has gravitated to the other extreme, scoring 22 goals in the last five games while winning three in a row and four of five to reach .500 of the first time this season.Michael Grabner scored two short-handed goals, Brad Keller scored his fifth goal of the season and Vinnie Hinostroza scored his third in support of Antta Raanta, who made 29 saves in his first game back after missing previous two with flu-like symptoms.“A lot of games we lost, we played really, good structured hockey ” Grabner said. “We just weren’t scoring. Now the puck is going in for a lot of guys Womens Esa Lindell Jersey , and it is easier to be confident out there with the puck.”Jordan Oesterle, Derek Stepan and Richard Panik scored their first goals of the season for the Coyotes, who broke the Lightning’s seven-game points streak.Adam Erne scored his first goal of the season to break Raanta’s shutout at 9:27 of the third period.Tampa Bay (7-2-1), which had not lost since falling to Vancouver in the second game of the season, was playing its fifth game in eight days while finishing a five-game road trip.“You look on your schedule and this probably sets up as a tough one for us,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.“Can’t predict it’d be a 7-1 tough one for us. We weren’t our best tonight, that was clear.”Oesterle, Keller and Stepan scored in the first 13 minutes of the first period as the Coyotes scored three of their first five shots. It was 5-0 after two periods.“They were a tired club and we had energy tonight,” said Arizona coach Rich Tocchet, adding of the early burst, “It loosens guys up. When you get a couple of shots in early, the guys feel a little calmer on the bench.“When you are not scoring Jamie Benn Jersey , that is when people get tight. You could feel the bench was real loose.”Arizona’s fifth goal came on Grabner’s first short-handed score at 11:48 of the second period. He added another at 8:59 of the third.The Coyotes lead the NHL with five short-handed goals and have given up only three power plays goals in 28 chances after killing four of Tampa Bay’s five power plays.“We have chemistry, reading off each other to make plays,” Grabner said. “Right now we are getting chances. For me, the main focus is to kill off the penalty and maybe change momentum.”Lightning goalie Louis Domingue made 23 saves in his first game against his former team.Brad Richardson and Alex Goligoski had two assists apiece and Raanta had one. Raanta has three career assists, the last while with the Rangers in 2016-17.The turnaround has not taken the Coyotes by surprise.“We were still OK with the way we were playing (early in the season), we just couldn’t score,” Goligoski said. “That’s caught up to us now.NOTESCoyotes: Goalie Antti Raanta returned after missing the previous two games with flu-like symptoms.Lightning: Defenseman Victor Hedman, who won the Norris Trophy last season, did not play and is expected to miss at least a week after suffering an upper body injury in the second period of a 3-2 victory at Las Vegas on Friday.UP NEXTCoyotes: Host Ottawa on Tuesday in the third game of a five-game homestand.Lightning: Host New Jersey on Tuesday.