'It sure is special’: EA Sports adds former North Bay hockey player to NHL 21 video game
NORTH BAY -- EA Sports is honouring a former North Bay hockey player’s legacy in a unique way. After being approached by a family friend, the video game giant has added Noah Dugas in their latest video game NHL 21 as a playable character.
Dugas played for the North Bay Trappers before tragically passing away late last year.
“It sure is special,” said Dugas’ uncle, Glen Gravelle.
Family friend Jason Sullivan reached out to a contact he had at EA sports, shared Noah’s health battle and the company agreed to add his hockey card in the game.
“Maybe Noah could have played in the NHL, maybe he could have played for Team Canada -- we’ll never know,” said Sullivan. “But, here’s a virtual way he can still do it. His friends can do that for him.”
EA Sports gave the family 25 cards to use in NHL 21 to distribute to family and friends.
“The Dugas family are awesome people,” said Sullivan. “Perhaps a foundation in Noah’s name can come out of this to raise money for situations that he had.”
Gravelle said the family held a conference call to play as Noah in NHL 21 and says it was pretty emotional.
“Last night we got the cards and turned our gaming systems on and saw Noah out there playing the game he loves,” said Gravelle.
Dugas was a defenceman for the North Bay Trappers Major Peewee AAA team. During a game in March of last year, he felt unwell.
He was admitted to hospital where doctors informed him he suffered a stroke. A photo of him went viral on social media asking for support and prayers. Many NHL teams, players, fans and Olympic athletes reached out sharing their own messages of support. Noah died in November at age 13.
“I’m sure he is smiling from up there and looking down on us,” said Gravelle. “He would have been honoured to be in the game with some of the big stars.”
For now, only family, friends and teammates can play as him in the game. However, both Sullivan and the Dugas family hope EA Sports make his character available for gamers around the world, so more people can learn about his story.
“Whether it happens or not, that’s totally up to EA Sports. But, we’re appreciative of the 25 cards we did receive and it’s pretty special,” said Gravelle.
The family calls it a "wonderful tribute" to a young man who loved the game and is still scoring goals thanks to the help of a controller.