TAMPA — There have been plenty of stars inside and around Amalie Arena during the Lightning’s past few postseason runs.
The Hockey Guys of TikTok?
The group of 10 friends, who have more than 1.3 million followers on the popular short-form video app. were special guests of the 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 while dancing on rollerblades, lip-synching or competing in challenges.
“I think what’s unique about us is that when we do trends, at least we’re on either rollerblades or doing something with jerseys on,” Lawson McDonald, 24 of Winkler, Manitoba, said. “So in a way, we’re always unique on the app, so I think that’s what helps us grow a lot. There’s not many groups of 10 guys that will play hockey and go on rollerblades that are on TikTok right now.”
The group developed a big enough following to earn an invitation to this year’s Winter Classic in Minnesota.
Sunday, the group — 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 ride around the ice on the Zamboni during the first intermission. Others spotted the Chick-Fil-A cow during the second period. Pace and Friesen lost a dance-off with a Lightning fan during the third period.
The group traveled to Tampa after appearing at Game 2 Thursday in Sunrise. After arriving on Saturday, they took a boat ride down the Hillsborough River and went rollerblading on Bayshore Boulevard.
“It was awesome,” said Pace, 24 of Hamilton, Ontario. “We got first-class treatment from the Lightning. As an organization as a whole, they’ve just been nothing but great to us.”
Said McDonald, “The riverboat ride kind of blew me away with how nice everything was down here. I didn’t 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 yelling, ‘Go Bolts! Go Bolts!’” said Kaplan, 24 of Vernon Hills, Ill.. “Just seeing the signs and stuff all over the place, Tampa is definitely a hockey city.”
The Hockey Guys played hockey together at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. In October 2019, McDonald started sharing his adventures on his own account. Then, with some interest from his friends, he created the group account in October 2020.
It wasn’t hard to convince the members’ families that they could make a career out of the pursuit. Nearly a year and a half after the account was created, The Hockey Guys’ videos have 39.9 million likes.
“I think one thing we have in common, all 10 of us, is that our parents are so supportive of this, 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 have a lot more growing to do as a group, so they’re pretty proud of us.”
The Hockey Guys superlatives
Most likely to mess up a TikTok: “Friesen” (Kaplan)
Most likely to diss an idea for TikTok: “Me” (Lawson)
Most likely to win a TikTok challenge: “Martin” (Pace)
Funniest one in the group: “MacTavish” (Kaplan)
Most likely to get into a hockey fight: “Bates” (Lawson)
Most likely to score a goal: “Cudmore” (Pace)
Most likely to get singled out in the comments: “Friesen” (Kaplan)
Most likely to say something outrageous: “Pace” (Lawson)
Most likely to say something inappropriate: “Tie between me and Friesen” (Pace)
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