The U.S. men’s national under-18 team has had a dominant run in the tournament, winning five gold medals in the last six events, including their victory on April 27 over the Czech Republic in Lappeenranta, Finland.
The celebration began on the ice. Then, as is tradition for USA Hockey, the championship team gathered in their dressing room, wearing their medals.
They sat in a large circle, arms on each other’s backs, silent. A rough voice rose up, shouting the first line of their team hymn:
“OH, MAMA DON’T YOU CRY!”
His teammates echoed him: “OH, MAMA DON’T YOU CRY!”
“USA HOCKEY IS DO OR DIE!”
“USA HOCKEY IS DO OR DIE!
The militaristic chant continued for about a minute …
… until its gloriously bitter end:
“PUT SOME GATORADE IN YOUR GLASS! WE JUST KICKED YOUR [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE]!”
And so it went, as it went in 2013 at the IIHF World Junior championship, where the U.S. won gold:
And a rather emphatic version from the U.S. world junior win from 2010, with Danny Kristo on vocals:
(Hey, Chris Kreider sighting!)
So where did this victory song originate?
From Kirk Culik, that’s where.
Culik is a cross-training coach who is also a retired prison guard and Gold Glove boxing coach who works with the National Development Program. It’s a chant that the players learn during their training sessions, spat out like the shout-and-repeat songs heard during basic training.
“I'd say every group from the 1990s on knows it and waits for a chance to sing it,” said Scott Monaghan, USA Hockey Senior Director of Operations.
It’s only performed after a team wins a championship; needless to say, the USA Hockey’s younger players have burned their lungs singing it more than the national team has.
It made its debut (i.e. caught on video) after the U.S. junior team won worlds in 2010, and now it’s become tradition to release the latest rendition after they capture gold.
“I'm a little bummed that the last two words keep getting edited out though,” joked Monaghan.