Imagine what it is like matching up against one of hockey’s greatest players in a local men’s league tournament.
That is what Newmarket players got to experience at a championship game with the New Direction Hockey League last Wednesday, Aug. 16. when Connor McDavid, a Newmarket native, played in a game, drawing crowds and becoming the subject of multiple viral TikToks starting Aug. 17.
“Imagine showing up to support your boyfriend in his championship beer league game, except your boyfriend happens to be playing against Connor McDavid,” the TikTok on the digital sports platform Bardown said. “Everyone else there in that building was there for McDavid’s team. Or, I guess, just McDavid.”
The TikTok, shot in the Magna Centre, has more than 200,000 views as of Aug. 19 and shows dozens there to watch McDavid play in his hometown. Several other TikToks about the incident have also amassed hundreds of thousands of views.
But McDavid’s appearance in this league is not necessarily that out of the norm, according to the New Direction Men’'s Hockey League. The league plays at the Magna Centre throughout the summer and in a June 23 post, said McDavid has played with the league for several years, showing up for the league’s premier elite division on Wednesday nights.
“This is Connor's seventh summer season with New Direction Hockey,” director of hockey operations Art Bevis said on the league website. “His great play and positive attitude, along with his tremendous support of New Direction Hockey has inspired so many other great names from Pro hockey that have chosen to come and play some puck with us week after week in Newmarket.”
That is reflected in the TikTok post, with highlighted fellow NHLer and Newmarket native Quinton Byfield also on the ice for the game, matched up against McDavid. It would be Byfield and his teammates who walked away with a win, according to TikTok.
“There’s got to be no better feeling in a beer league than knowing your team is beating the best player in the NHL,” the TikTok video said.
New Direction Hockey League said its games have been graced by many NHL players in recent years, including Jason Robertson, Travis Dermott, Gabriel Landeskog and more.
“It’s great fun watching the calibre of hockey that is played,” Bevis said on the league website. “We, at NDH, certainly wish great success to all the players that are reaching for the stars in so many hockey cities in North America, and hopefully, we will, once again, see all the tremendous athletes year after year with New Direction Hockey at the Magna Centre.”
The TikTok video shows players on the opposing team celebrating after the win, having won a championship.
“If you’re going to celly, celly hard, you just beat Connor McDavid,” the voiceover says.