Goaltender Cam Lanigan of the Kamloops Blazers, a Western Hockey League team, was less than a year old when EA Sports released "NHL 94," the classic hockey video game that still has a cult following today.
One day, he was playing his old Super Nintendo when it struck him how ridiculous one aspect of the game truly was: The player celebrations. Those awkward, stiff robotic moments of group choreography that occurred after a goal or a victory.
"Everyone just stopped and threw their sticks over their heads, and I thought it was the funniest thing ever," Lanigan told Kamloops This Week.
So funny, in fact, that Lanigan decided to pay tribute to the "NHL 94" stick raise ... by getting his teammates to reenact the video-game celebrations after Blazers' wins.
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, it became clear the celebration had caught on when, after a long video review in overtime, Dalibor Bortnak was ruled to have scored a game-winning goal against the Regina Pats. "That one game where we had the video review on the OT goal, I just walked around and said ‘If we win, we're doing it right now," Underwood said.
The red light turned on -- a roster-full of hands bolted toward the Interior Savings Centre's ceiling.
Even German-born Bernhard Keil joined in, although his teammates are not convinced he knows exactly what's going on. "He thinks it's just a standard Canadian celebration," JT Barnett joked after practice.
Yep, the Blazers are entering a video game after wins. It's just like "TRON Legacy," but with 100 percent less Daft Punk.
For a refresher on what the "NHL 94" celebrations look like, check out five Pavel Bure goals in 85 seconds:
Blazers defenseman Brandon Underwood said there have been some "chuckles around the league" about the EA Sports-inspired victory celebration ... but honestly, how cool is this? We think Kamloops should take it to the next level and go all-in for NHL 94 references. Like only scoring with a deke move or a one-timer. Or having the arena DJ play low-fi digitized versions of arena staples like "Brass Bonanza" during games.
Bottom line: The Colorado Avalanche's "Bang Bang Dance" suddenly has company for best new postgame celebration this season. We can only hope this means other WHL teams will adopt video-game memes for themselves. C'mon Kootenay Ice: Say "with the pass!" after every successful offensive reception, like in "Blades of Steel." And is there any reason the Chilliwack Bruins shouldn't roll out a skinny, medium, fat, fat unit during 4-on-4 play ala Nintendo "Ice Hockey"?
Stick-tap to Tyler O. for the story.