Wonders of Night

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND—The quality of play at the Financial Icehockey World Cup, or the World Financial Hockey Tournament, as it was variously called, was described by Toronto team captain Brad Kwong, a defensemen, as a mixed bag. “Some teams were better than others,” he said. Yes: In one game, Mr. Kwong’s team manhandled the New York team 12 goals to one. “But the starting line of every team,” he said, “you could tell they’d played hockey before.”

Most of the New York team, sometimes called Team Goldman in recognition of the place of employment of many of its members, had landed at Leifur Eiriksson International Air terminal at dawn. At the baggage claim, some still wore their blazers from the office the day before. And at noon, the puck dropped in Skauta Höllin, Reykjavik’s lone ring, for the first game.

Mr. Kwong was the only player on Team Toronto with Canadian roots—and even Mr. Kwong, 42, now also resides in New York, where he is the managing director of a hedge fund.

The stands of Skauta Höllin were occupied, for a stretch, by a gaggle of curious Icelandic teenagers; one wore a shirt that read “Woteva!” Another spectator was Per-Erik Holmström, of Stockholm, who is the C.E.O. of Financial Hearings Scandinavia and the founder of the five-year-old tournament.

“You see, the Americans are much more aggressive with the puck,” Mr. Holmström said. Wall Street was just then dominating the play near Reykjavik’s goal. “Whereas the Europeans are much more moving around the puck.”

Reykjavik is the third-most-expensive city in the world. Team Toronto’s New Yorkers, on break between games, ate homemade lasagna and drank $10 cans of beer. “We’re gonna leave a dent on this city. There’s only two married guys on this team,” said a banker with a receding hairline. “We’re not talking about girlfriends.” He chastised a teammate for calling home to his woman. “We’re in Iceland playing in a fucking hockey tournament. Of course it’s going to be a three-day fuckfest. No use checking in.”

The round-robin tournament—no checking, no slap shots—came to an end after 10 p.m. Each team played four games. “You definitely felt it in your legs,” said Bohdan Pryjmak, 29, a brawny Wall Street forward, who does hedge-fund support at IFS. It was, said Kenny Turano, 25, of Harbinger Capital, “an awesome day of hockey.”

Toronto had emerged as the undefeated champs. Stockholm had come in second; New York placed third. Helsinki was fourth, but had at least taken a game off the Swedes. “That is the minimum requirement,” said Tukku Finneus, 42, a real-estate analyst at Nordea Bank, Finland’s powerhouse bank. “We always must beat the Swedes.” The home turf only provided last place for the Reykjavik team.

After the games, that night, “we were out till 7 in the morning,” said Mr. Pryjmak. “Every girl there looked like Claudia Schiffer.” And the next day—which was April Fools Day—many of the New Yorkers opted for an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most famous hot spring. (It is also, essentially, a power plant.) Neal Walsh, Team Toronto’s Astoria-accented goalie, said that the pools were so cold that it made “my balls crawl up inside my stomach.”

That night, the entire international posse descended on Olvar, a beer hall with long cafeteria tables and small windows, for the awards ceremony and now-traditional karaoke sing-off.

“I know that some of you have been exploring wonders of night in Reykjavik,” said Kiell Thelmis, an executive from Kaupthing, Iceland’s largest bank. “You look tired, some of you, but it will get better when you go out again tonight.”

“You know it,” said Patrick Newell, 25, of Team Toronto. He raised his glass at teammate Tom Steczkowski, also 25. The best friends had both played hockey at Lehigh University, were fraternity brothers and worked as mortgage traders at Credit Suisse, which Mr. Newell prefers to pronounce as “Swe-ees,” in a French-accented falsetto. They are currently looking for a joint bachelor pad: Gramercy, or Gramercy-adjacent.

Their table was digesting a tasty rumor that Saturday was payday in Iceland, and that therefore Icelandic women—bright-eyed, apple-cheeked and notoriously sweet on Americans—would be out in full force.

“Last night we had a pretty low success rate, from what I hear,” said Mr. Steczkowski. He wore a white shirt under a blue V-neck and khakis.

As the men slurped beers and feasted on $20 burgers, Mr. Holmström called players to the stage to be honored. (He was not drinking. Erik Johansson, of Team Stockholm, said that Mr. Holmström only drinks once a year, during Sweden’s annual crayfish harvest at the end of summer, “to show his employees he can.”)

In all, there were 12 tournament all-stars, a six-person M.V.P. team, an all-cup M.V.P. and a handful of gimmes, such as Best Goal. “Jesus, he’s given out awards to like a third of the people here,” said Mr. Newell.

“Hockey players are the same wherever you go,” said Mr. Kwong, now on the mike, receiving his due for Best Team Leader. “Umm, the goalies are usually crazy. The Finns always wear pink shirts wherever they go.” The Helsinki team, all 16 of them, were wearing identical pink and patterned button-downs. Of the whole group, he said: “Good guys to play hockey with, good guys to drink with, good guys to party with.”

“We might have lost the tournament,” said Reykjavik’s Runar Runarsson, after accepting an award for scoring a goal by bouncing a ricochet off the post and into the goalkeeper’s back and then on into the net. “But we are definitely gonna win the karaoke competition.”

The Swedes gave a rendition of “Hooked on a Feeling,” noteworthy for its hooka-chacka-ing. The so-called Toronto team followed with “Benny and the Jets,” in which they pronounced the title phrase as “Benny and the Yets,” intended to mock the Swedes’ trouble with the English “J.”

Wall Street came in with “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Helsinki raised the bar, selecting a Finnish rap song with a break-dancing performance by their portly defensemen, Jari Heikkila. Surprisingly nimble, Mr. Heikkila deftly alternated between “the robot” and “the mime,” and ended with a backspin only enhanced by his protruding paunch.

Runar Runarsson, representing Reykjavik, his collar turned all the way up, went solo with “Born to Be Wild.” Emboldened by calls for an encore, he produced a guitar and belted out Adam Sandler’s “I Want to Grow Old with You.” He dedicated that song to his goalie.

Mr. Holmström declared a tie between Helsinki and Reykjavik. “We should have won,” said Finland’s Tukku Finneus, shaking his head. “We have a person who can backspin!”

Mr. Kwong, cocktail in hand, said he had made a lot of new friends. “Business is relationships, and when you have a relationship with someone via a common denominator like hockey, where you have this mutual trust and you’re playing against each other or whatever, then you’re much more open to doing things together. That’s what I think.”

Had the Financial World Cup, or whatever it was called, brought any practical benefit to business? “Honestly, no,” he said.

“You know the connections you make in this type of tournament,” said Mr. Holmström. “I have, for example, one of my best contacts for asking them if happening something in the U.S., and to listening also a little bit of the rumors. Because I can tell you that the rumor is the quickest form of information in the financial world.”

Toronto Team all-star David Adler, 26, a smiley, lanky brokerage analyst at J.P. Morgan, said he had arrived a day early and taken a jeep tour of some of Iceland’s more radical terrain. The jeeps kept getting stuck in the snow, at one point right on the edge of a cliff. “It was craaazy,” he bragged. Nearby, Mr. Heikkila was demonstrating “the robot” to a clutch of Finns and New Yorkers. “This guy is amaaazing,” said Mr. Adler.

Scott Turkow, a banker from New York, had gotten up the courage to sing “We Are the Champions.” This flummoxed Neal Walsh, Mr. Turkow’s own goalie. “What the hell is wrong with this kid? This is embarrassing,” he said, gesturing with his compact, muscled arms. “Try doing Elvis, sure. But not Freddie Mercury. The guy was a fucking opera singer, for Chrissakes.”

At midnight, Mr. Walsh was waiting to be served another Jack and Coke. Mr. Walsh, 34, is not in finance, but became friendly with some of the guys at the Chelsea Piers’ Sky Rink, where he is the manager. “You got any idea what it’s like to be stuck with no toilet paper after taking a shit in the bathroom?” he asked the bartender.

Wall Street team captain and Goldman veteran Michael Armilio, clad in a sleek gray pinstripe suit with no tie, was eager to find out where the party was going. “My wife is here with me, so I haven’t been going that hard,” he said.

Most of the hockey-playing bankers set out on another all-night pursuit along Laugavegur Avenue. Reykjavik’s main street is a quaint, architecturally bland promenade populated with bars, clubs, restaurants, teahouses and novelty shops. After midnight, it is alive with young people.

Michael Roscishewsky, 34, owner of the Blue and Gold bar in the East Village, had accompanied his friend Mr. Pryjmak to Iceland. He had some observations about Reykjavik’s nightlife. “It’s what drives the city. Everyone gets really drunk. The women are all drop-dead gorgeous. They’re also friendly, and aggressive.”

He told of how a player on the New York team had been using the urinal when an Icelandic woman entered the bathroom and asked if she could “shake” his member. “The women love to dance, and Icelandic men don’t seem to,” he said.

The Icelandic men, he noted, are very protective. Mr. Roscishewsky said on several different occasions men had interrupted his conversation with a woman to say, “Stay away from her. She has S.T.D.’s.” On another occasion, a man had threatened him with violence. “He was like, ‘Listen, it’s not happening. I’ve got eight friends with me, and you’re not getting out the door with her.’”

The visitors seemed to do well with the women on Saturday night. At 2 a.m., Mr. Steczkowski was seen posing for pictures at the Dublin Bar, wearing a huge hat made of bear fur, his lips pressed against a smiling Icelandic girl’s rosy cheek.

“Everyone back at the hotel seemed to have a story to tell,” said Mr. Roscishewsky.

Next year, the bankers will meet up again to play on the rinks and on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden. “I’ll be at next year’s tournament for sure,” said Mr. Pryjmak later. “I’m planning on it.”

—Spencer Morgan Wonders of Night