Hundreds of Edmontonians flocked to the Ice District Plaza Monday to celebrate the Oilers’ first game in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Donning orange and blue, the watch party-goers descended outside Rogers Place to take in the festivities, including a cover band playing hits like Smashmouth’s Allstar and The Backstreet Boys’ Everybody, while less than an hour before puck drop, a brass band got people chanting “Let’s Go Oilers.”
Clinching home-ice advantage for the first round, this year marked the first time a watch party could be held at the Ice District since construction was completed due to pandemic restrictions the previous two seasons.
Lance Kane, sporting an Oilers jersey and flag, was one of the diehard fans who came down to the plaza Monday evening. Kane said he has been waiting the majority of his life for this moment.
“With the pandemic and not being able to go see Oilers games in person, the first goal I’m just going to lose my mind, let’s be honest,” Kane said. “This whole city has been waiting for this for a long time.”
Kane said both his dad and grandfather are Oilers fans, so he was born into the fan base.
“But being born in ’91, I didn’t really have too much to cheer for, ’06 was pretty much the highlight of my life, so I’m hoping I can experience that as an adult.”
Kane said the plaza is a “great vibe” and nice to have as an option if tickets are unavailable.
“I hope to be at every game.”
Taking in the sights of the plaza before heading into Rogers Place for the game, Lucas Nielsen said this is the first-ever playoff game he’s attended in person.
“I am exhilarated, this is going to be an amazing time,” he said.
Brett Yuzyk-Sullivan, another fan, said he and his friend went to most of the regular season games, but decided to watch Game 1 of the playoffs outside.
“I just told him, ‘Hey, why go to the game when we can come here. It’s free,’ ” he said.
He feels confident in the team heading into the playoffs and after the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s nice to be in a place that’s fun with a good atmosphere.
“We’re out here with fans, people came down here to enjoy it,” he said. “I’m glad things are starting to get back to normal. It was so different watching it from home and on the TV and all that and I was really hoping that fans were allowed to go during the bubble which would have been a cool experience.”
“That’s what kind of got me through the whole pandemic, was watching hockey.”
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