In only two days, Canadians from Victoria, BC to St John’s, NL will unite to celebrate Hockey Day In Canada; a day that brings together all Canadians through a common passion and love for the game of hockey. Although the main festivities will take place in Whitehorse, Yukon, hockey devotees across Canada will also be watching closely as the Oilers host the Senators at noon, Toronto visits the Habs at 5:00pm and the Canucks go head to head with the Flames at 8:00pm.
Every year the CBC selects a theme for Hockey Day In Canada and this year’s theme “Trailblazers” is no stranger to the Oilers and fans across Oil Country.
|Former Oilers playing in the Heritage Classic alumni game on November 22, 2003. |
Arguably one of the greatest moments in Oilers history was on November 22, 2003 when the Oilers hosted the first ever outdoor NHL game at Commonwealth Stadium on a chilly minus 25 degree day. Although the air was cold, the fan’s energy was palpable. The idea for an outdoor game was led by Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge who had a dream of taking NHL hockey back to its roots on an outdoor sheet of ice. Over 60,000 fans filled the stadium that day to watch the Oilers and Canadiens alumni, then current rosters take hockey back to the outdoor rink.
Since the Oilers Heritage Classic in 2003, outdoor NHL games have become popularized. This year alone the Capitals and Penguins went head to head at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day, and our neighbours to the south will battle it out versus the Canadiens on February 19, 2011 on an outdoor sheet at McMahon Stadium.
The Fort McMurray Oil Barons also made history on November 26, 2010 when they hosted the first ever outdoor AJHL game. In front of over 5,700 fans, the Oil Barons defeated the Drayton Valley Thunder on a crisp Northern Alberta night.
This weekend the University of Alberta is hosting a pond hockey tournament which saw them turn a football field into two outdoor rinks to host their 3 on 3 tournament. In addition to the hundreds of U of A students who will battle it out for bragging rights, the Oilers are also hosting a minor hockey clinic for local players on the U of A outdoor rink this Saturday morning.
|The Oilers Octane, the first dance and cheer team for a Canadian NHL team. |
On December 14, 2010, the Oilers were once again trailblazers as they welcomed the Octane to Oil Country, making them the first Canadian NHL team to have a dance and cheer team. Since their debut, thousands of fans have eagerly approached the Octane every game night to pose for a photo or have them sign the first ever Octane calendars.
In addition, the Oilers Octane has started to make an impact in our community as they have been involved in several outreach initiatives and events, the most recent being a Hospital Visit at the Cross Cancer Institute. On top of all this, they’ve already hosted their first Tweetup which gave Oilers fans a chance to gather together to watch the Oilers take on the Dallas Stars on January 26.
Trailblazing is not a new theme in Oil Country and on Saturday, February 12 when Canada celebrates Hockey Day in Canada and trailblazers, Oilers fans can proudly hold their heads high knowing the impact the Oilers have made on Canadian hockey in a short 32 years in the NHL.