All the members of the New York Night, from coach Preston Rivers on down, insist that they’re not superstitious. “We know we have the talent to go all the way,” said Rivers. Still, the Night face a double-digit deficit in the division with only 20 games left, and they’ll gladly take any advantage they can find. They seem to have found one this week, in the unlikely form of a ’70s pop song.
This was a week of interdivisional play, with the East’s teams hosting. The Night split their first two games of the week, and then on Tuesday found themselves trailing the woeful Seattle Sailors 4-2 going into the third period. “We knew this week, with the homestand, it was a big opportunity,” said Night LW Chase Winchester. “And we were letting it slip away. We needed to get turned around and quick.”
During a break in the action about 5 minutes into the third, the sound man at Neon Sky Center played the 1974 Kiki Dee hit “I’ve Got the Music In Me.” The song was a hit with the crowd, but not as much as what happened next. Shortly after play resumed, Night D Dominic Sanchez banged home a rebound past Sailors netminder Rocky Goldmire. That was the beginning of a string of three unanswered goals, including the game-winning slapshot from the faceoff circle by RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson with 35 seconds remaining to secure a 5-4 comeback win.
A thrilling and inspiring win, to be sure. But the game by itself wasn’t enough to turn the song into a legend. It needed some help, in the form of a viral GIF. While the song was playing, the Night’s TV broadcast happened to catch LW Ben Summers boogieing along, bobbing his head and shimmying his shoulders. A New York fan captured the moment, made it into a GIF, and posted it on Instagram with the capture “This is what won it 4 us tonight #RallyDance” The clip circulated quickly among SHL fans, becoming one of the most-viewed videos on the site.
The next night, the Night were hosting the Anchorage Igloos. During the first intermission, with the score tied 2-2, the Night once again played the Kiki Dee song and displayed the video of Summers’ dance on the Jumbotron, while flashing “#RallySong” at the bottom. The crowd went wild. Apparently inspired, the Night scored a pair of goals in the second en route to a 4-2 win. After the game, Rivers referenced the video and song. “I think Ben and Kiki Dee really turned the tide tonight,” said the coach. “That was the turning point, no doubt about it. After they played that video, we were unstoppable.”
On Friday, the Night took on the Dakota Rapids. New York fell behind early, and with less than 5 minutes left in the game, Rapids C Phil Miller tipped in a shot to make it 5-3. In desperate need of a rally, the Night once again played the song and the Summers video. And sure enough, New York scored a pair to tie the game, including a Daniel Bellanger slapper with 22 seconds left, and then RW Ivan Trujwirnek fired home the game-winner in overtime for a 6-5 victory.
“Well, it’s official,” said Rivers at his postgame press conference. “Kiki Dee is magic.” He said that he planned to ask the staff to continue playing the song at every home game for the rest of the season.
For his part, Summers enjoys his newfound fame. “I haven’t done that much to help the team on the ice this season,” said the winger. “But at least I’m able to help us out on the bench!”