This post will be about my first encounter with Oilers, the most beloved and disappointing team for Edmonton hockey fans.
I had never watched hockey until 2017. Even though I am from Russia, the country of legendary hockey players, I was never interested in hockey alone. With my mom (not dad!), I used to watch soccer, Formula 1, and Olympic games. All kinds of sport, but not hockey. My excuse was ridiculous. I thought the puck was so tiny and fast that it was literally impossible to see where it goes or who hits it. Now I know it was just a silly reason.
In 2017, I met and started dating a guy who was a real hockey fan, an Oilers fan. He took me to a hockey game on our third date, and I did not mind as I had never been to any NHL game in my life. It was October 29, 2017. Edmonton Oilers were playing against Washington Capitals. My date picked me up an hour before the game, and as I sat down in the car, I noticed a weird oversized shirt on him. It was of a screaming orange colour. I remember, thinking in my head: “Why would he choose this shirt for our date? It is so big and bright!” As someone who had never explored the hockey culture of Edmonton during my first years in Canada, I did not know anything about the jerseys, the logos, and the hockey fashion. As soon as we entered the Rogers Place (hockey arena), I saw thousands of people wearing identical orange/blue jerseys. Everything blurred before my eyes. It was an orange mass of people, hardly distinct from each other. Suddenly, my date did not look weird to me anymore. It was me who stood out: dress, heels, evening hairstyle and makeup. Everyone looked casual, relaxed, excited for the game. There was some tangible atmosphere of unity and community. It was a new feeling for me. I felt like being a part of something bigger.
We found our seats, and the “show” began. It was a real show, a spectacle for me. I did not expect such a crazy, exhilarating atmosphere of the common spirit, cheer, and genuine happiness among people. I did not expect to be touched by listening to Canadian anthem. After 4 years of being in Canada, it was the first time I truly realised this was my home. My country. I was overwhelmed with all the sounds around me: people screaming and jumping from their seats if it was a goal; loud dance music during the intervals; interactive games for the audience; funny shots of hockey fans; and, of course, the sound of the puck gliding from one player to another. I could see the puck very clearly. I paid attention. The game suddenly made sense to me. At that time, I was torn between cheering for Edmonton Oilers and supporting Washington Capitals who had, I think, 3 Russian players (the famous Ovechkin, Orlov, and Kuznetsoff). Oilers lost that time. The game was over.
I know Oilers have been struggling a lot lately, and not everything goes the way we, Oilers fan, want it to go. We cannot help with the chemistry in the team or influence the decisions of the GM and coach. But we can preserve this sense of community, this feeling of family – and send this energy to help our team make it to the playoff!