Northfield senior Nicholas Kvernmo has visualized himself playing in the state tournament thousands of times. He's pictured himself skating, stickhandling, shooting and scoring at Xcel Energy Center in vivid detail.
Especially the scoring part.
"Oh yeah, of course I knew the [celebration] even before I scored," said Kvernmo after scoring twice to lead the unseeded Raiders to a 3-1 Class 1A quarterfinal upset of No. 3 seed Mahtomedi. "I told the guys, 'If I score, I'm doing the Bazooka Celly.' "
Sure enough, he did. And he did.
The forward's third-period goal broke a 1-1 tie and sent him scurrying to center ice, where he put his stick on his shoulder and fired two imaginary blasts into the bleachers, as he had promised.
"It was pretty cool," Northfield goalie Ryan Bielenberg said about Kvernmo's scripted celebration.
Bielenberg made 34 saves, and Kvernmo added an empty-net goal in the final minute in the Raiders' first state tournament trip.
Northfield (21-5-3) became only the fourth team — but second of the day — to knock off a higher seed in the quarterfinals in 10 years of Class 1A tournament seeding.
Mahtomedi (16-12-1) opened the scoring in the first period on a goal from Dallas Duckson. Northfield's Jacob Halvorson tied it midway through the second. Then Kvernmo took center stage.
"Clearly, these guys with the celebrations, it's more well thought-out," said Raiders coach Mike Luckraft, who starred on Burnsville's 1985 championship team.