As the final minutes of the game passed by, the 3-1 lead held by the Winnipeg Jets seemed safe and in great peril all at the same time. The Nashville Predators led by Roman Josi made it an interesting game early in the third by getting on the board to cut the lead to two goals, but Winnipeg in front of a hostile Nashville crowd didn’t give their Central division rivals anything more as for the second time in the last three years, a game seven victory would be claimed by the Jets who were led by Anthony Bitetto.
The final horn sounded, the Jets clad in their white heritage unis poured out on to the ice as Bitetto leaned back in his chair, soaking in the glorious victory of a hard earned 4-3 series win over Josi and the Predators.
His post-game comments?
“I’m gonna go take a break right now, go eat dinner… And then I’ll probably stream tonight. Saturday night, nothing else to do, can’t really go out.”
Welcome to our new normal where we’ve gone from watching Bitetto and the Jets on the ice, to Bitetto and the Jets playing and streaming their favorite video games.
eSports is the new sports
With most of the world in lock-down now due to COVID-19, pro athletes who would normally be in the middle of playoff runs in hockey and basketball, or just nicely underway with baseball season as suddenly stuck at home. While pros playing video games to pass the time isn’t exactly a new thing, most don’t go to the trouble of setting up a video camera and streaming their games, but with nothing much else to do beyond trying to stay in shape at home, and lacking fan interaction, we’ve been seeing real athletes virtually lace up in NBA video game tournaments, MLB players representing their teams in a mini-season of sorts, and former teammates Bitetto and Josi taking each other on in a best-of-7 series that one could argue had as much drama and twists as the 2018 real life series.
A few days later, Bittetto was back online and this time pairing up with Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce on the Fortnite field as they looked to qualify for a charity event being produced by Twitch that will eventually see a field of pro-athletes being ‘drafted’ into teams by pro-gamers.
The excitement he and Pesce – two players who make a living playing in front of thousands of rabid hockey fans – displayed as they dropped in for their first round of qualifying was amusing to say the least.
Bitetto and Pesce did indeed qualify for the next round that takes place on Thursday, along with 49 other sporting duos for the right to play in the actual charity gamer event that will happen a week from now on April 22. Among the others who qualified are Jack Roslovic who is teamed up with former Jets forward Brendan Lemieux, and of course Patrik Laine who is partnered up with FC Cincinnati defender Zico Bailey.
Patrik Laine has also dipped his toes into Twitch streaming as well with a very clever “Patsyuk” username, but hasn’t taken to it quite to the level that Bitetto, or Roslovic who was warming up his own Fortnite and Twitch skills on Tuesday night as he interacted with viewers between rounds.
Even the Winnipeg Jets themselves created their own channel and have recently started to show virtual Jets games, called by Mitchell Clinton and Jamie Thomas. Once again, it was the virtual Jets topping the virtual Predators, this time in a shootout after having fallen behind 0-3 early in the game.
Winnipeg Jets On Twitch
Anthony Bitteto – www.twitch.tv/abitetto7
Jack Roslovic – www.twitch.tv/jroslovic
Patrik Laine – https://www.twitch.tv/patsyuk29
Winnipeg Jets Official – www.twitch.tv/winnipegjetsofficial
JetsNation – www.twitch.tv/nhljetsnation