TAMPA — There were plenty of stars in and around Amalie Arena in the Lightning’s recent playoffs.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. Actor John Travolta.
Hockey guys from TikTok?
The group of 10 friends, who have over 1.3 million subscribers on the popular short video app. were special guests on Lightning Sunday for Game 3 of their second-round series against the Panthers.
The Hockey Guys create videos that are a mix of original content and popular trends, often focusing on their love of hockey, sometimes dancing on rollerblades, lip-synching or competing in challenges.
“I think what’s unique about us is that when we’re trending, at least we’re on rollerblades or doing something with jerseys,” said Lawson McDonald, 24, of Winkler, Manitoba. “So in a way, we’re still unique on the app, so I think that’s what helps us grow a lot. There’s not a lot of 10-guy groups that are going to play hockey and rollerblading who are on TikTok right now.
The group has developed a large enough following to earn an invitation to this year’s Winter Classic in Minnesota.
Sunday, the band — McDonald (Lawsy), Will Blake (Will Blake), Levi Cudmore (Cuddy), Jordan Martin (Jmarts), Austin Friesen (Frizz), David Kaplan (Kappy), Jonny Pace (Pacer), Troy MacTavish ( Taver), Coltyn Bates (Batesy), and Martan Yelle (Yelle) — took part in in-game activities.
Some took a spin on the Zamboni ice during the first intermission. Others spotted the Chick-Fil-A cow during the second period. Pace and Friesen lost a dance with a Lightning fan during the third period.
The group traveled to Tampa after appearing in Game 2 Thursday at Sunrise. After arriving on Saturday, they took a boat ride on the Hillsborough River and went rollerblading on Bayshore Boulevard.
“It was awesome,” said Pace, 24, of Hamilton, Ont. “We received first class treatment from the Lightning. As an organization as a whole, they have been nothing but great for us.
McDonald said: “The boat ride kind of blew me away with how beautiful everything is here. I did not expect that.
Kaplan said it was nice to walk around downtown Tampa and hear from Lightning fans.
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“We were in our Tampa shirts and everyone was screaming, ‘Go Bolts! Go Bolts!’ Said Kaplan, 24, of Vernon Hills, Illinois. “Just looking at the signs and stuff everywhere, Tampa is definitely a hockey town.
The Hockey Guys played hockey together at the University of Wisconsin-Higher. In October 2019, McDonald’s began sharing their adventures on their own account. Then, with some interest from his friends, he created the group account in October 2020.
It was not difficult to convince the families of the members that they could make a career out of it. Nearly a year and a half after the creation of the account, The Hockey Guys videos have accumulated 39.9 million likes.
“I think one thing that the 10 of us have in common is that our parents are so supportive of it, like everyone’s behind it,” Pace said. “Everyone sees the potential in what we’re doing and they’ve seen us grow over the last year, and we still have a lot to do as a group, so they’re pretty proud of us.”
Hockey Guys Superlatives
Most likely to spoil a TikTok: Friesen (Kaplan)
Most likely to reject an idea for TikTok: “Me” (Lawson)
Most likely to win a TikTok challenge: “Martin” (pace)
The funniest of the group: MacTavish (Kaplan)
Most likely to get into a hockey fight: Bates (Lawson)
Most likely to score a goal: “Cudmore” (rhythm)
Most likely to stand out in the comments: Friesen (Kaplan)
Most likely to say something outrageous: “Not” (Lawson)
Most likely to say something inappropriate: “Tie Between Me and Friesen” (Pace)
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