How two maple syrup-guzzling hosers turned stunts with hockey stars into online gold
They've scored NHL interest with their goofy online 'coaching' of stars like Johnny Gaudreau, Connor McDavid
Two long-haired, maple syrup-drinking hosers from central Alberta have had some of hockey's biggest stars slam them in the chest with slapshots, tackle them to the ground and slay them in shootouts.
And they've captured it all on camera, racking up tens of thousands — and sometimes millions — of views for the videos in their online hockey advice parodies, On the Bench.
The series is the creation of two minor hockey coaches from Airdrie, Ryan Russell and Steve Campbell.
Evoking the spirit of iconic Canadian hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie, Russell plays Jacob Ardown, a former Virgin Island elite league star, and Campbell plays Olly Postanin, a former Bangladesh hockey league player.
They try to teach pro hockey players "the fundies" — fundamentals — of the game, although the series takes its name from the fact that they're such bad players themselves that they're almost always benched.
And they've convinced real NHL players to play along — including Johnny (Johnny Hockey) Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres.
- Watch below as Olly and Jacob break down the 'fundies of bench brawls'
"[Gaudreau] was kind of one of our first guys that we kept working back and forth with," Campbell told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.
"He's crushing it this year," Russell said. "You're welcome."
"We'll take full credit," Campbell said.
Ardown to Johnny Hockey: 'See if maybe the end of the season's better for you, kid'
The videos range from about one minute to six or more in length. Sometimes they go a week or two without posting, other times they post a few in a week.
The National Hockey League has even picked up the videos, posting some on their channel.
One shows a polite Gaudreau aiming for the crossbar. The two hockey coaches miss every one of their own shots.
"Maybe go up to 250 shots in the driveway or something, if your mom will let you, I'm not sure," Russell said in character, before ignoring a fist pump offered by Gaudreau.
"See if maybe the end of the season's better for you, kid."
- Watch Johnny Gaudreau shoot it out with the boys On the Bench
They get a little roughhousing in, too — like a slapshot to the chest by Tyler Toffoli of the L.A. Kings and a tackle by McDavid.
They even invented a challenge called "Grape Challie" for McDavid.
The two tied a grape to the top left corner of the net and McDavid shot and hit it.
"It was our breakfast that morning. It was great. We need the nutrients and what not, and we figured well, we'll see if he can snipe them," Russell said.
"It's actually pretty insane what these guys can do."
- Watch Connor McDavid try to hit a grape tied to the net in On the Bench
Russell and Campbell say they got the idea for the show after noticing some of the 13- and 14-year-old players on the team they coach — Bantam AA in the Airdrie Minor Hockey league — were treating hockey like a job, training sometimes seven days a week.
"It was so business-esque … so that's when we started in the practices … kind of horsing around in a way that speaks to the kids," Russell said.
"So now when we see it, we see smiles, we see laughter. It's like the passion's back."
"That's what we're shooting for," Campbell said.
- Watch Olly and Jacob break down the 'fundies' of the game
The teen players responded well, Campbell said, so they filmed their gag and the video took off online.
They say they hope to make enough money from online ads and merchandise to start a hockey school for underprivileged youth in Airdrie.
This week, they're off to Vancouver to work with EA Sports, a video-game company.
The two say they're not sure if they'll be in a video-game.
"I don't think that's a good move on their part," Russell joked. "But we'll see how it goes."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener