In what appears to be a first, two women's hockey stars will appear as playable athletes in a sports video game simulating a professional men's league. NHL 13 will feature Hayley Wickenheiser (above, left), of the Canadian women's national team, and Angela Ruggiero (above, right) of the United States national team, alongside Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and other all-time greats in the game's "Be A Legend" mode.
Last year, gamers were given the chance to play as female hockey players in NHL 12's "Be A Pro" mode. But the athletes were all user-created. This will be the full likenesses of both the two stars, who have both won four medals in Olympic competition.
"The EA Sports NHL franchise took a big step last year by including female characters to create a more inclusive experience for female hockey fans," Wickenheiser said in a statement provided by EA Sports. "I'm excited to be a part of NHL 13 and hope that the addition of women's hockey legends will encourage greater participation in hockey from young women everywhere."
In "Be A Legend," gamers essentially play a Be A Pro career as an all-time great, with the goal of breaking records, hitting career milestones and fulfilling other tasks. Ruggiero and Wickenheiser will also captain two teams, comprising all time NHL greats, that are playable from the game's Play Now, Online, and "Battle for the Cup" modes.
Wickenheiser, 34, was the first female professional at a position other than goalie. She is a three-time gold medalist and two-time tournament MVP in Olympic competition. Ruggiero, 32, has one gold, two silvers and a bronze from Olympic competition and played professional in the Western Women's Hockey League and Canadian Women's Hockey League following a standout college career at Harvard.
NHL 13 releases on September 11 in North America and September 14 in Europe.