Article from Sasktel Communications
It’s no secret COVID has changed the way we work here at SaskTel, but we’re adapting and doing what it takes to continue serving our customers by providing the critical services they rely on.
For groups like the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, who had their season interrupted by COVID, figuring out how to keep entertaining their dedicated fanbase while protecting the public, their players, and personnel may not have the most obvious solution. Good thing Saskatchewan folks like to innovate.
To continue the season, the league decided to combine traditional sports with esports by importing the entire league into EA Sports’ NHL 2020 on Sony’s PlayStation 4, and running live simulations on Twitch to close out the schedule. And, with the partnership of SaskTel, the virtual games will conclude with a not so traditional Canalta Cup Finals, that will have replays of the live sims broadcast on MaxTV Local on Demand.
“We know how disappointed everyone was when we made the decision to suspend the season, so we kept on looking until we found an opportunity to continue it in a new format,” said Bill Chow, SJHL President. “While it’s not quite the same experience, these simulated games allow us to keep sharing in our joy for the game at a time when coming together around the things we love has never been more important.”
With a fanbase that skews young and rural, the SJHL was particularly wary of the impacts the pandemic can have on the mental health of Saskatchewan youth, especially as they adjust to restrictions created to help overcome the pandemic.
For the SJHL, abandoning their fans is simply not an option. So, when the idea for a simulated end to the season came about, they went looking for partners to help make it happen.
As a long-time sponsor of the league, SaskTel has received excellent brand recognition through logo placements, commercials, and one jointly developed PSA and programing related to the recent Be Kind Online Pink and White Game that was featured prominently during the SJHL-MJHL Showcase Series. With the league’s existing relationship with SaskTel, and the organizations’ shared focus on improving the lives of Saskatchewan’s youth, getting SaskTel’s help with making it happen seemed like a no brainer.
“When the SJHL approached us with this idea, we thought it was a great way to help support young people in this province, but it wasn’t something we were even sure could be done,” said Michelle Klimchuk, SaskTel Marketing Manager – VOD. “Our team worked hard to overcome the challenges we ran into and the end result is that the Canalta Cup Finals are available province wide on MaxTV Local on Demand.”
The SJHL’s regular colour commentary team is handling the play by play duties for the games. And, with modern video game graphics, each game has the feel of a professionally broadcast live game.
The Canalta Cup Finals began 10 May 2020, with the first broadcast live on twitch.tv/sjhlhockey. A replay of the first game premiers 11 May 2020 at 8 p.m. on MaxTV Local on Demand.
Click here for complete schedule.