A few years ago, Harshjot Singh Nijher and Prateek Saini thought hockey was only played on grass fields with a round ball.
"Back in India we didn't even know about ice hockey because we play field hockey more often," Nijher told NHL.com.
But like so many people in Montreal, the two friends fell hard for ice hockey and the Montreal Canadiens. They hope their Bhangra dance video brings an extra boost to their beloved Canadiens for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Nijher and Saini are from the same area in India, though they never met until they arrived in Canada at 22 years old to earn their postgraduate degrees in 2012. They were introduced by mutual friends and soon bonded over their love of sports (cricket and soccer), their culture and Bhangra, a popular type of Punjabi dancing in India.
It took a year to adjust to the new surroundings before they started following the Canadiens. They couldn't help but notice the red jerseys everyone was wearing around town and soon they were hooked.
Now with full-time jobs, they decided to start a side project of teaching Bhangra fitness classes at a local studio. Both were competitive Bhangra dancers in high school and university in India, and they came up with the special dance in one evening. They shot the video by the Montreal Clock Tower in Old Port, a location they felt captured the spirit of the city.
"We have too many steps to do because we've been doing this so long," Nijher said. "But we tried to fit what we could into that one minute."
More than just a fun cheer, their hockey spin on a traditional, celebratory dance was a tribute to the people of Quebec. To their surprise, the video has gone viral and created a surge in demand for their classes.
"Because we both are from India, we were initially, not scared, but a little concerned about how we would adjust in Montreal and how would Quebec treat us," Njiher said. "And the way Quebec treated us with open arms with our education and we got jobs, it was both a way to support the Habs, but also to thank everybody in Montreal for making sure that we got integrated into society the way we have and really for all the love we have gotten here."