It's a snowy night in Minnesota on a late-January road trip. With a goal in the final seconds of regulation, the Florida Panthers have just come from behind to defeat the Wild, and things are beginning to heat up within a growingly raucous visitor's locker room at Xcel Energy Center.
As players begin to shed their gear amid a sea of hooting and hollering, the post-game shovel, a token given to the team's player of the game after each win, is awarded to forward Noel Acciari, who tipped in the game-winning goal with six seconds left on the clock to secure the 5-4 victory.
"Thanks guys," Acciari says. "We've got one more here, so let's end the road trip off right." Then, with no more speeches left to give, the party finally starts.
"D.J., hit that track!" center Vincent Trocheck shouts across the room.
Within seconds, the team's new victory song, "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life" by Indeep, fills the room. Some players jump out of their stalls, while others clap along to the 1980s post-disco hit. Even those of us outside the room, waiting to enter for interviews, can't help but tap our feet.
But where exactly did this new rhythmic rallying cry come from?
"Frankie picked it out of nowhere," Trocheck recently told FloridaPanthers.com, referring fellow Panthers forward Frank Vatrano. "It gets the people going. It's been the go-to song for us lately."
Originally, Trocheck said the team was using the song "So Good" by B.o.B. after wins. But during an early-season road trip to New York, Vatrano and a few other Panthers were out enjoying a steak dinner when they heard "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life" in the restaurant.
Soon after that, Vatrano, who has apparently taken over control of the tunes in Florida's locker room this season, presented the track to the rest of the team for approval. And, as I'm sure you can guess, everyone else in the locker room felt exactly the same way - this is song is perfect.
In fact, Jonathan Huberdeau even used it during the skills portion of All-Star Weekend.
"It was a group decision, and everyone likes it," Vatrano said. "I know (Trocheck) didn't like it at first, but it's grown on him. Winning in this league isn't easy, so when you do you've got to enjoy yourself. It's good to have guys enjoy the music."
As for "So Good," Trocheck said that track has hit the back burner for the time being.
"We have one (song), and it's 'Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life,'" he said firmly.
Coming out of the break looking to build upon their season-high, six-game winning streak, the Panthers have certainly been celebrating a lot lately. They've won 13 of their last 14 contests overall, and are currently holding onto third place in the Atlantic Division with a 28-16-5 record.
On Saturday, Florida will resume its push toward the playoffs in Montreal.
"The difference in the locker room between a win and a loss is pretty drastic," defenseman Mike Matheson said. "It's always nice to have the music going, knowing that the effort you put in for that night went to something. Especially right now, everything is so tight in the standings and these wins mean so much. When the music's playing, it means you did something good."
As it is with every team around the league, things like songs, nicknames and awards develop naturally throughout the course of a season. But when a team is winning, these traditions take on even greater meaning as they become tied to the success itself, rather than just a result of it.
So, much like the shovel has become the team's individual award after wins, 'Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life' has evolved into a treat for the entire team. And with any luck, the very catchy earworm will continue to gain steam as the Cats fight and claw their way into the postseason.
In the meantime, add the song to your favorite playlist and join in on the fun!
"It helps us keep it loose in the locker room," Trocheck said. "The more you're having fun, the more confidence you're going to have and the better you're going to feel on the ice."