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Goal celebrations: Calling all captains Print
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Written by Justin Bourne   
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 12:41
I’ll admit, I get annoyed when I see guys over-celebrate a goal. 

“Act like you’ve done it before” was a mantra I lived by in both junior and pro hockey. Every time I saw someone get super-excited after a goal, I got the impression they felt lucky. As if to say, “Holy crap, I can’t believe that went in. What a great surprise!” 

A quick confession: I got a bit too, er, confident in college.

Any player who's any fun has practiced stupid goal celebrations after practice. The more extreme the planned celebration, the more likely it is your teammates will think, "maybe for an overtime winner or ridiculously huge goal." And I had prepared for such a situation.

My college team, the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, like most teams, plays six out-of-conference games a year. Naturally, we use four of those to play the University of People Actually Live Here? Fairbanks. Each year, the Governors Cup is awarded to the team with the best record over those four head-to-head games.

As freshmen, we played the first two games in Fairbanks. Each was brutally hard-fought; we won the first game and were up 3-1 in the second with 90 seconds left. We lost 5-3 in regulation. Enjoy your flight home.

In Anchorage, just back from Christmas break, we finished the series by splitting the final two games. The tie-breaker? A five-round shootout. I was sent fourth.

In my head, my move (as a right shot) was: fake shot, hope he goes down, go to my backhand (his blocker side), and pull it to my forehand, cutting back across the crease.

At my first flinch, their goalie was on his butt, looking like a one-man yard sale in the crease. Caught fully off-gaurd, I simply skated around him and zipped the puck on the ice … where the goalie desperately reached back and swatted away a sure goal. We lost the Governors Cup that year.

By the time I was a senior I cared about the Fairbanks games. A few weeks prior to starting the series in Fairbanks, Terrell Owens had just pulled a Sharpie pen from his sock and signed the ball after scoring a touchdown – which I thought was hilarious. By that Thursday morning I was practicing pulling the Sharpie out of my skate, fake-signing my stick, and handing it to my teammate sliding towards me and acting like a little kid collecting an autograph.

Game one, overtime. Odd-man rush. I had a clean shot. I scored. You can understand this obviously qualified for ridiculous celebration status — so I did it.

This is how the conversation went with my Dad on the phone, post-game:

Me: "… and then I pretended to pull a sharpie out of my skate and sign my stick"

Dad: (long pause) "No. No. You didn't actually, right?"

Lining up for the faceoff to start game two, the unnaturally large-headed Fairbanks forward Kyle Greentree leaned in to have a chat with me. We had a funny on-ice relationship, but his comment took the cake: 

"That was a pretty fancy celly for somebody who's had three bad college seasons."

Oof.

I'm not generally “that guy” on the ice. It's not something I had done before, but something about getting so comfortable on your college team after four years – the rivalry, whatever – it just seemed to fit.

The problem was, it was addicting.

I had taken a little taste of the big celebration drug in preseason that year, against the US-under 18 team (and I was 23 – nice, Bourne), and did the referee goal point as I faded away from the net after scoring. Our athletic director, Steve Cobb, had a little chat with me about taunting our opponents and, simply, to not do it. Set an example, Son.

Dr. Cobb is from Oklahoma, and liked to pretend like he's still there. He advised me that "If I wanted to rassle with a pig, we’d both get dirty and the pig’ll like it" or something like that. Stop it, was what I assumed he mean.

Unfortunately that week I heard about an Alaska Aces player that did a celebration I thought was hilarious. So much so that, like I stole the T.O. routine, I grabbed this one, too. I scored on a one-timer during a 5-on-3 power play, on a Saturday night victory over North Dakota, and immediately slipped into the Captain Morgan pose. I was in too deep now. I was a celly guy.

It stopped mattering if I deserved the credit or not. As long as the goal was relatively important, I was doing something. Like in Colorado College, when I fanned on a shot while falling on an overtime breakaway (after skating at the speed of dial-up internet) the shot went under the goalie's awful padstack for the win. So naturally I did a slow, one-knee-down fist pump along the boards.

When college ended, I got shoved off my high horse pretty quick.

Andy Sutton wrapped my visor around my own chin. Justin Mapletoft broke my nose with his shoulder. I was getting called up and sent down so much I stopped unpacking. 

It was obvious: I’d have to stop the shenanigans. I was in Celly Rehab. In professional puck, you don't have a pretty-face protector to stop the kind of blunt-force-rhinoplasty some players like to perform – for free – on people who act like that.

But when I hear the outrage over someone over celebrating these days, I have flashbacks to the time when I was addicted. It gets a hold of you, and it’s a hard habit to break. But I know the right thing to say. So I chime in, too.

Deplorable. That guy’s disgracing the game.

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Take a Sip
As always, great article!

My personal favorite is when a player takes the sip of the goalie's water bottle that he's just knocked off the top of the net.
Blake Benzel , February 03, 2010

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Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2010 15:14