North Carolina is college basketball country, which is why the hockey team playing in the Tar Heel State knows pandering to hoops fans is a great way to get people excited about a playoff run.
The Carolina Hurricanes are likely bound for the NHL playoffs, currently in the top Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and five points clear of the Columbus Blue Jackets for third in the wild card race. The team, which literally plays its home games in a venue built for NC State hoops, has started a tradition this season that’s a bit unorthodox. After wins at home, the Hurricanes all take the ice to perform increasingly-elaborate celebrations while their fans cheer them on as they do the big clap in unison that the Icelandic soccer team made famous.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as having all the players dive along the ice at once. Or slamming into the boards as a team. But as the wins piled up and the season continued, the choreography got more and more complex. And on Saturday night, when the Hurricanes handily beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-1, the team broke out a celebration perfect for a state that currently has two No. 1 seeds alive in Men’s March Madness that same weekend.
In other words, the Hurricanes dragged out a basketball hoop, set up a play and had Trevor van Riemsdyk dunk while the pig mascot looked in in awe.
Let’s break this down a bit here. First of all, let’s talk about the tremendous pick set by Calvin de Haan here.
That’s about as non-moving as you can be on skates while you’re trying to get a ball handler some space.
And then there’s the dunk itself. Yes, van Reimsdyk is dunking on a rim that’s far from regulation height, but it’s not easy to jump on skates.
This is one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened on ice. And yet, it’s tough to look away.
Oh, and he made sure to do the Vince Carter “it’s over” after the dunk.
There have been plenty of stodgy hockey pundits who have criticized the Hurricanes having fun after home wins, and they’ve had their say this season. But whatever’s happening in Raleigh this year is working and it looks like a hell of a lot of fun.