Sports Simulation Board Games

PLAAY Games in Pittsburgh: 4th Annual "Commissioner's Surprise" Tournament with HOCKEY BLAST, November 10, 2018

Canadian PLAAY Gamers"Hockey Day in Pittsburgh!": PLAAY Gamers gathered at the Baldwin UMC for the 2018 "Commissioner's Surprise" HOCKEY BLAST Tournament! From left: Art Campana, Derek Jones, Matt Dante, George Peete, David Rubinstein, Rick Lawes, Tom Cline, Mark Russell.

In honor of the start of another hockey season, we put on our Fourth Annual "Commissioner's Surprise" HOCKEY BLAST Tournament—where EVERY team has a chance to win it all! THIS year, the action happened in Pittsburgh, PA. Our event was be part of the Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania's November Game Day, Saturday, November 10th. We linked up with dozens of local board gamers, who played all kinds of board games, new and old! It was an amazing day of dice rollin' and card-flippin' fun!

EVERY pro team from the HOCKEY BLAST 2017-18 Pro Season card set was included in the tournament. It's single-elimination, and the match-ups were completely random—we literally drew them out of a hat! The previous year's real-life championship series teams always get a first round bye for this tournament, that was Washington and Las Vegas this time around. The pro league's expansion to Las Vegas now gives us an un-even number of teams (31), so we had to alter our format just a little bit for the 2018 event. We conducted a play-in game between the bottom two pro teams from the 2017-18 season, Buffalo and Arizona, streamed live on the PLAAY Games YouTube Channel Friday night, October 12th. The winner of that game joined the other 27 first-round teams (see pairings and results below).

Everything from the "Commissioner's Surprise Sweet Sixteen" right down to the championship game was played entirely on-location in Pittsburgh. You can read a complete summary of the entire tournament below. Seems every year, there's a "Cinderella" team and this year it was San Jose. Helped by the random draw that gave them home ice for every game, the Sharks upset the hometown Penguins in the first round and then took down heavily-favored Winnipeg in the "Sweet Sixteen." The Cinderella run ended—barely—when Tampa Bay eked out a 1-0 win over the Sharks in the "Elite Eight" round. Mark Russell continued to build on the winning tradition he established at last summer's PLAAY-Dot-CON (where he won the PLAAY Gamer Open Golf Tournament and finished runner-up in the Hockey Blast All-Time Great Teams Tournament), leading Toronto to three consecutive victories (over Minnesota, Los Angeles and Washington) to earn a berth in the Championship game against Boston. Art Campana was selected to coach the B's. Everyone gathered around to watch the "big game," which did not disappoint (recap below)!

After the tournament, those of us who were able to extend the day grabbed some dinner at a local dining spot (Armstrong's) and then headed to PPG Paints Arena to attend the real-life Penguins-Coyotes game (won by Pittsburgh 4-0)! It was a perfect way to end an awesome day of hockey-themed fun!

Pittsburgh PLAAY GamersHockey Day Part II: Taking in the Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena, November 11, 2018. (from left, background) Eric Minor, Mark Russell, Tom Cline, David Rubinstein. Penguins won 4-0 over Arizona!

2017-18 "Commissioner's Surprise" HOCKEY BLAST Tournament Updates

The tournament pairings were announced Monday night, October 15th in a live webcast from the PLAAY Games Facebook Page. Tournament play began Wednesday night, October 16th, with results posted below. Teams in blue advanced to next round, person(s) who played game in [brackets]...

Pittsburgh PLAAY GamersTV Time-Out: Taking a break in "Sweet Sixteen" HOCKEY BLAST action, Rick Lawes (left) coaching the Blues against Matt Dante's Devils.
SECOND ROUND, "Sweet Sixteen"
THIRD ROUND, "Elite Eight"
Pittsburgh PLAAY GamersHead-to-Head: "Final Four" action, Boston vs. Philadelphia. Eric Minor coaches the Flyers, while Derek Jones orchestrates the attack for the Bruins.