We here at Hockey Achievements started our own EASHL team shortly after NHL 17 was released in September. Following up on our 6-week update from last month, we’re now taking a look at the mode and our own team in an EASHL 2016 Year in Review. We’ve put quite a bit more time into the mode over the last quarter calendar year, and here are our thoughts on the mode and how better to improve your game if you’re struggling.

POSITIONING: Since Hockey Achievements intern Travis joined the team; one important aspect of hockey has become startlingly clear and that is the aspect of positioning your players on the ice. Sure, the computer and human opponents will usually tend towards chasing the puck, but if your defenseman decides he’s going to pinch in on every play, your opponents will learn from this and often take advantage of it. Travis loves pinching as a defenseman because Hockey Achievements isn’t really known as an offensive powerhouse, winning most of our games by narrow 1-0, or 2-1 margins. Getting caught behind enemy forwards via some clever passing, however, can often lead to odd-man rushes back the other way. Luckily, we’ve been bailed out a few times via patch improvements made to our next observation.

GOALTENDING: November’s NHL 17 patch helped boost the goaltending AI and this has been critical to providing a more realistic sim experience on the ice. A deke master can still find the opening on the short side, but an elite goaltender won’t be caught out of position as often. Of course, nothing is perfect and neither are goalies, as Hockey Achievements has also been burned by soft goals on slapshots taken from outside the faceoff circles in our defensive zone. While these softies are few and far between, this makes them all the more backbreaking when they do occur. Smoother animations and movements in the crease for human players playing as goalies have also been added, but the only person to have braved stepping between the pipes thus far has been Ryan Sheehy and he’s still a bit shellshocked from the overall experience.

CUSTOMIZATION: The final aspect that has become evident as Hockey Achievements have clawed their way up the online standings and we have turned our team into a little beer-league level powerhouse has been the customization. More fonts, team colors, jersey designs, and arena additions have become available as we level our team up and that personal touch has helped the sense that we’re actually playing for something more than just your amusement dear readers. More options in these categories have also been added since NHL 17’s last patch. Although EA will likely never allow full graphic design options to help keep the game family friendly (and its ESRB rating at just E10+ for everyone 10 and older), more options to help each team define themselves and their personalities is always appreciated and is a just reward for those clutch victories you obtain online.

Hockey Achievements is nowhere near done with the EASHL, but we are more than confident in saying the changes and additions made to the mode since the game’s launch have provided a more realistic experience and a more enjoyable one. To see all of these features in action, be sure to tune in every Tuesday night at 6 PM PT/9 PM ET to watch Hockey Achievements’ weekly Tuesday Night Hockey as Ray Carsillo goes online and broadcasts games live on Twitch at twitch.tv/hockeyachievements.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for opportunities to try and join Ray, Ryan, Travis, and the rest of the Hockey Achievements crew in the EASHL as Hockey Achievements looks to fill some slots on their team as the season progresses, or face them in head-to-head competitions. Until next time, be sure to keep it tuned to HockeyAchievements.com and The Gaming Zone in particular for you all your NHL 17 needs, and we’ll see you on the digital ice.

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