Hockey fans are eagerly awaiting the resumption of the Battle of Alberta on Thursday, when the province’s southern NHL team faces a do-or-die situation.
The Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 tonight. If the team doesn’t leave the arena victorious, it will be out of the playoffs, and the Oilers will be the sole Canadian team left in the fight for the Stanley Cup.
The Flames held a practice earlier Thursday at the Saddledome, where the forward Johnny Gaudreau said the team is ready for tonight’s game.
“Every guy is really motivated in there, and we know where we’re at in the series … take it one game at a time and have fun tonight playing in front of our fans,” Gaudreau said.
It’s not hard to spot Flames flags, jerseys and signs throughout the Beltline ahead of the game. And it’s not hard to spot the fans, either.
Some blame the team’s current predicament on Connor McDavid. Flames fan Tanner Lomsnes says the Oilers’ star has taken over the series. But Lomsnes is looking at tonight’s game with a “glass half full” perspective.
“Especially last game.… I think everyone in the city and I think around the province thought the Flames would be the one to go out on top of that. So that was definitely a heartbreaker … I’m looking forward to tonight’s game.”
“It’s been awesome, especially working down on the Red Mile, seeing the red jerseys and stuff. It’s a lot of community camaraderie and just makes the city vibrate.”
Glenn Gradeen — decked out in his red-and-black Flames jersey — says the playoff run has been great for the city, and he’s excited for potential things to come.
“It’s huge. And even now you hear the Flames and the city are back at the table negotiating for a new rink. It’s important. Clearly important.”
The run has also been a boon for bars and pubs in the city, and especially those on the Red Mile (a.k.a. 17th Avenue).
Jamesons in Brentwood has seen a huge increase in sales, says shift leader Taylor Guterson.
“I think for restaurants across the city, there was like a massive increase of reservations and drinks sales, food sales — all that kind of thing. So I think having this kind of hockey rivalry made everything a lot better for everybody,” she said.
Working in the midst of games is “really exciting,” Guterson said.
“There’s like a tension in the air. But I find everyone’s just really happy to be here and happy to watch them play in the playoffs and make it this far.”
The Flames take on the Oilers at the Saddledome starting at 7:30 p.m. For those who were not lucky enough to score tickets, the Flames have set up a viewing party outside dubbed the Red Lot.
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