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'This will flip a season round': Oilers followers on a Heritage Basic with unexpectedly excessive stakes

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Had the beginning of the Edmonton Oilers season gone to plan, the Heritage Basic may need felt like an exhibition, a festive, en plein air dismantling of a bitter rival by a crew destined for the sunlit uplands of Stanley Cup greatness.

As a substitute, followers arriving early to Commonwealth Stadium Sunday had been making ready for one thing that was sudden a number of weeks in the past — a determined contest with main stakes.

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The Oilers and Calgary Flames entered Sunday’s outside showcase with depressing respective information of 1-5-1 and 2-5-1. For some followers, the sunny skies and pageant environment belied actual worry of the house crew leaving the stadium with only one win in eight video games.

“I feel the season undoubtedly began off on the unsuitable foot for certain,” mentioned Oilers fan Trevor Sleno, who was celebrating his anniversary with fiancée Jen Boyce. “I’m hoping that is really the turning level for the season.”

Boyce mentioned she was buoyed by the climate — balmy in comparison with the 2003 version of the outside sport — and Connor McDavid’s slated return from harm.

She was nonetheless feeling extra nerves than anticipated.

“I feel it’s form of nearly a typical false impression that … this isn’t an everyday season sport, and that it’s only for enjoyable,” she mentioned. “In order that places much more stress on it.”

Jen Boyce and Trevor Sleno exterior Commonwealth Stadium forward of the Oct. 29, 2023, Heritage Basic between the Oilers and Flames. Jonny Wakefield/Postmedia jpg

Scott and Michelle Davis — who travelled from Lethbridge to have a good time Scott’s fortieth birthday — had been excited for a excessive stakes Battle of Alberta.

“Each groups are determined for a win, actually,” he mentioned. “Each groups haven’t come out of the gate very nicely in any respect. If you happen to take heed to Calgary’s crew, they’re saying ‘we’ve been enjoying unhealthy’ and apologizing to their followers, Oilers are doing the identical factor. Each groups are flat, and it is a huge sport. This will flip a season round for certain.”

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“It’s going to be cool,” he added. “You’re exterior, watching NHL hockey.”

Added Michelle, “And Battle of Alberta. And I get to see Leon Draisaitl.”

Longtime Oilers fan Henry Stephens mentioned he was withholding judgment on the 2023-24 crew till the 25-game mark.

“You’ve obtained to offer any crew 25 video games,” he mentioned exterior Commonwealth’s major entrance. “They’re simply popping out of the rack. After 25 video games I’ll begin criticizing. However earlier than that, you’ve obtained to offer them an opportunity.”

Within the Sixties, Stephens grew up enjoying hockey on the outside rink at Lauderdale Neighborhood League — an unusual expertise for youths his nieces and nephews’ age.

“It’s neat. It brings again previous recollections … you’re freezing, however you’re on the market.”

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