With smiles on their faces, the ladies from Four Loko had just got done celebrating.
For the second straight year, the team had won the Women’s Silver Division at the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey National Championships in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
The ladies had taken care of their part of the plan. Now it was the guys’ turn.
Prior to entering this year’s tournament, the ladies from Four Loko and their men’s counterparts, GoalTinders, made a pact this was the year they would both bring home championships to their hometown of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee.
“To be honest, we were a little stressed out we were going to win and they weren’t, because we were just so excited to celebrate together with them,” Four Loko captain Ally Strickler said.
The GoalTinders’ championship game in the Novice Division was near halftime when the ladies got over to watch their friends play.
“We walked over in our championship jerseys and hats, and then the pressure was really on the boys to win because they already knew we had won,” Strickler said.
“We were already under a lot of pressure because we had gotten this far last year and lost,” GoalTinders captain Brady Morrissey said. “Hearing they won, we were like, ‘Now we definitely have to win.’”
The guys ended up taking care of business, downing Kung Fu Treachery, 8-4.
The celebration was on.
The two teams snapped plenty of photos together with their championship gear and trophies, and lived it up on that Sunday afternoon on the pond.
“It was one of the most memorable weekends for sure of all of our lives,” Strickler said. “It was awesome.”
The players on both teams are extremely tight. There is a player on GoalTinders who is married to a player on Four Loko. Strickler is also dating one of the GoalTinders. Of the 14 combined players from the two teams, 10 play together on a co-ed team, Honey Badgers, in the B-2 Division in a league at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.
“It’s our main friend group, to be honest,” Strickler said. “It’s the people that I hang out with all the time.”
Four Loko, which has competed at the pond hockey championships for eight years, went 5-0 in the tournament, including a 4-3 win in double overtime over Team Pristine in the semifinals. GoalTinders, which played in its third tournament, went 6-0, including an 8-6 overtime victory over Boss Grunniens in the semifinals.
The ladies of Four Loko loved winning back-to-back titles in the Silver Division after playing in Gold its first five years.
“It was actually more fun this year than it was last year,” Strickler said. “A large part of that is because the boys team won as well, so we got to celebrate together.”
The two teams are extremely supportive of one another. If one team has a game and the other doesn’t — even if it’s in the morning session — the players will be watching from the snowbank and cheering each other on.
“It’s kind of like high school in a sense like if you have a guys’ team and a girls’ team, the guys’ team is always watching the girls’ games and vice versa,” Morrissey said.
“We’re crazy supportive,” Strickler said. “We all have one large house together that we all share [during the tournament]. There’s about 20 of us in the house.”
The two teams normally have brunch together on Sunday, the final day of the tournament. However, this year both teams were competing for a championship.
For winning the title, each team receives a large trophy and banner from USA Hockey. The ladies have designated one of their players to take the trophy and display it in her office at work. The guys are going a little old school with it, paying homage to the Stanley Cup.
“They were sending me Snapchats of what they’re doing with the trophy,” Strickler said. “The other day one of them was eating cereal out of it. They’re like, ‘Cereal tastes so much better out of this championship cup.’”
Morrissey hasn’t taken his turn yet with the hardware.
“I will definitely be drinking beer out of it,” Morrissey said. “Aside from that, I don’t have a plan for it yet.”
Morrissey noted that after all the guys have had their time with the trophy, it will end up in his brother’s basement, which is a team hangout.
The team members on Four Loko and GoalTinders — who are adamant when they say the pond hockey championships is the best weekend of the year — have already made it their goal to capture another pair of titles in next year’s event.
“Both of us have to change divisions, so we might need to get a little pond hockey practice in before our games,” Strickler said. “But we already have our house reserved for next year, and we’re ready to go.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.