You can go ahead and add Esports to the lengthy list of accomplishments by decorated Canadian hockey star Erin Ambrose.
The (virtual) puck drops on the inaugural Memorial eCup presented by Kia this Saturday, November 28. Representatives from all CHL clubs will face off in a three-week long NHL 21 tournament along with four guests of honour. Among those renowned guests is Ambrose, who is looking forward to a much-anticipated return to the Esports stage.
“The opportunity [the OHL is] giving me just to meet new players, whether I get past the first round or not, is really cool,” Ambrose said of the opportunity. “It’s really cool to be able to talk to the guys and see what they’re doing.”
Ambrose’s seasoned hockey resume includes first-place finishes at the IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships in 2010 and 2012 along with a silver medal in 2011. At the IIHF World Women’s Championship, Ambrose claimed silver in 2017 and bronze in 2019. The gold medalist captured a national championship with the Clarkson Golden Knights in 2014 and suited up with Les Canadiennes de Montreal of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2018-19, recording 24 points over 26 appearances to earn recognition as the 2019 Defender of the Year.
Currently residing in Montreal, Ambrose is a member of the Canadian Women’s National Team and is training with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. Recently, Ambrose has explored an interest behind the bench as well, working as an assistant coach for the Concordia University Stingers women’s hockey team.
“I really enjoy coaching and just getting on that side of the game is really becoming more of a passion of mine,” Ambrose said of the coaching gig.
Did we mention the defender is really good at NHL 21, too?
This past summer, Ambrose finished second in the Sportsnet NHL 20 Bracket Challenge, ultimately falling to Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski in the finale. Among the highlights of the tournament was a 9-2 defeat of San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane.
“I crushed Evander Kane,” Ambrose proudly recalled. “Shawn McKenzie and Paul Bissonnette were hosting and were like ‘I think you might actually do well in this thing’ so they were a lot of fun. Then they actually didn’t air that game and it was a running joke that Evander was too embarrassed.
“The best part is that I was able to donate a very good chunk of money to CAMH in Toronto and that’s something that’s very important to me, mental health.”
So when the Canadian Hockey League approached Ambrose about participating in this event’s first of its kind, the decision to participate was nothing short of a no-brainer.
“It’s something I do, I don’t want to say too frequently, but frequently enough, so why not try to be a little more social while doing it?” Ambrose responded.
It’s also an opportunity to connect with other players; something many athletes, like Ambrose, have missed while adhering to government regulations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always nice to connect with the other side of the fence, in a sense. We obviously have so much going on in women’s hockey and it’s sometimes nice to be able to talk to the guys because a lot of the guys don’t know what’s going on. I’m really excited to be a part of it,” said Ambrose.
“Chatting with people within the hockey world is something that is so entertaining because it’s so much smaller than you think it is. Somehow, some way, one of the guys I come across, we probably have some sort of common story and that’s something that’s really enjoyable to me. Obviously we don’t get a lot of opportunity to do that right now, so it’s a nice way to be able to do that.”
The Concordia coach admitted her up-and-coming performance may very well be without its flashy moves, but if the hockey legend’s on-ice accolades and Esports record are any indication, we’re positive players can expect a determined, experienced opponent in Ambrose.
“I usually bug a lot of people when I play them because I actually try to play normal hockey in a sense. A lot of people try really cool dekes, but I can’t do any of the dekes. I’ve tried, I went through the tutorials. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m too embarrassed to say and I still can’t do it,” Ambrose explained. “I need all five players on the ice, all five players need to contribute and sometimes the goalie’s got to bail me out.”
Ambrose will face off against the Barrie Colts’ Luke Bignell on Dec. 2 at 6:05.
For more on the inaugural Memorial eCup Presented by Kia, visit chl.ca/MemorialeCup.