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Ovechkin stars at WSOP Charity Shootout
Hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin wowed the crowd at the World Series of Poker on Wednesday.
The National Hockey League's reigning MVP joined fellow NHLers and members of Team PokerStars Pro at the PokerStars.net NHL Charity Shootout in the Amazon Room.
The ESPN feature table was transformed into a miniature hockey rink for the event, a 24-player mini-tournament that gave a few lucky online qualifiers the chance to face off against their hockey heroes in a $150,000 charity freeroll.
Among the stars to take part were Vancouver Canucks captain Roberto Luongo, Jeremy Roenick (San Jose Sharks), Mats Sundin (Vancouver Canucks), Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers) and Sheldon Souray (Edmonton Oilers).
The 24 players were divided into three tables of eight, with the winner at each table coming back later Wednesday night to crown a champion.
The online qualifiers joined six NHL stars and one PokerStars pro in each of the three first-round matches, though Kevin Connolly of HBO's Entourage filled the sixth celebrity seat in the final heat.
The stars of the rink have dominated first two heats, with hockey legends Glenn Anderson and Ed Olczyk both winning their tables outright.
Nashville Predators star Steve Sullivan was the second player eliminated at the third table, taken out by former teammate Hartnell, who shared a big laugh with Sullivan afterward.
"I don't think I did very well," said a smiling Sullivan shortly after his elimination. "I was a little intimidated, a little nervous.
"You're out of your element and that makes it a little difficult. I had fun and it was for a good cause. I had a blast."
"It's a great idea," Sullivan continued. "It takes us away from the ice and puts us in a different venue.
"It's great for the fans to see us in different aspects of our lives and just to have fun with it. I think they did a great job."
Tennessee native Chris Moneymaker shared a table with Sullivan and Hartnell, both of whom made names for themselves with the Predators, the state's only NHL franchise.
"I know some of these players, and it's nice that I got this table," Moneymaker said. "It's been a fun experience and I've really enjoyed it."
"As far as the poker goes I'm just trying to keep the pots small and stay out of trouble, hopefully let them make some mistakes and capitalize on those the best I can."
The 2003 Main Event champ hoped to fare better than his fellow pros, neither of whom managed to win their heat.
"It's great for poker and it's great for the NHL," Moneymaker said. "It's a good marriage and I think going forward it will be fun to watch."
Portions of the proceeds are earmarked for the Ronald McDonald House of Las Vegas as well as the NHL Players Association's Goals & Dreams fund, while each participating player will receive $2,000 towards the charity of his choice.
The Shootout will be broadcast on ESPN Classic and ESPN2 in the United States and TSN in Canada, as well as on the NHL Network throughout North America.