Oilers expect assist from raucous fans in Game 3 of Western Final

Edmonton -Bob Nicholson and Ken Holland came by car from Edmonton International Airport on Friday and saw a symbol that brightened their collective mood.

Edmonton Oilers Chairman Nicholson and Team General Manager Holland are back from Denver, where Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 lead in the Best of 7 Western Conference Finals.

As I approached the Walterdale Bridge leading to downtown, I was greeted by a large orange “PLAYLAB AMBA BABY” sign that appeared two weeks ago. “La Bamba” is a song played every time the Oilers win at Rogers Place and was a favorite of longtime Oilers locker room attendant Joey Moss, who died in 2020.

“Kenny and I started talking about the atmosphere, excitement, expectations of the city and how it’s off the charts,” Nicholson said. “It will be very nice. It was already crazy when we won. [Calgary Flames] This will be taken to another level in the final round of the Battle of Alberta.

“These fans have been waiting for this for a long time. It will be crazy.”

For the first time since 2006, the Oilers will host the final game of the conference on Saturday at Rogers Place (8 pm ET, TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS) when they encounter a Game 3 avalanche. The Edmonton players said it was a 16-year drought, and their ferocious supporters would end up being the loudest.

“We love playing at home” Leon Draisaitl Said. “We love to play in front of the crowd. I think we have the best fans in the league, and it will be noisy. It will be exciting.

“So we need to use it for our benefit and make sure it is in our favor.”

The party is not limited to the arena that opened in 2016. Thousands of fans go out of the fan area called the Ice District. This is part of a $ 2.5 billion multipurpose project in the heart of Edmonton, led by the Oilers. Owner Darryl Katz.

“There’s still a long way to go, but this was Darryl’s vision to bring downtown to life and connect people,” said Nicholson.

I already have it.

The area’s 50,000-square-foot public square has been attended by more than 30,000 people since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began as part of the Ford Tailgate Party. The number of spectators at the event was over 6,000 for home games and over 3,000 while the Oilers were out.

This time there is a special addition.

Workers spent part of Friday there creating a set of TNT panels featuring Wayne Gretzky. The 61-year-old, NHL’s highest-scoring scorer with 2,857 points (894 goals and 1,963 assists), spent the first nine seasons with the Oilers, helping Edmonton win the Stanley Cup four times. On Saturday, he sits on the set opposite the front door of Rogers Place. There stands a statue of Gretzky lifting the cup.

“That is, you think about how excited all those people are, and then you add the presence of the great,” Nicholson said. “It will make it even more nuts.

“Who knows what people come up with?”

How about a pizza named after that? Connor McDavid??

Campio Brewing, located a few blocks west of the Ice District and Rogers Arena. One of the most popular items on the menu is Big Mac David, a pizza named after the Captain of the Oilers, in honor of McDonald’s Big Mac. Featuring seasoned ground chuck, cheddar cheese, diced onions, chopped pickles, iceberg lettuce, sesame seeds and a “secret sauce”.

“I don’t know if Connor has officially eaten, but I’ve seen a behind-the-scenes video clip with lots of Campio pizza boxes in the dressing room,” said chef William Griffith. .. “Maybe he already has it”

According to Griffith, Big McDavid is one of the facility’s most popular foods and will continue to do so as the Oilers go further. He is not the only one who has a vested interest in the success of the team.

For Nicholson, it’s a perfect storm. Home game. Saturday night. “Hockey Night in Canada.” The only Canadian team in the NHL Final Four. And a community hungry for victory.

“We are all part of it, and the whole city is part of it,” Nicholson said. “It will be a special night.”

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