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Seventh man celebration

Forward Zack Kassian and an Oilers fan teamed up in Game 6 to produce one of the best celebrations of the year

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

There was Zack Kassian dashing towards the Anaheim Ducks' net, his head down, solely focused on the puck.

In the stands was Brad Ferguson, his head up, focused on the game alongside his wife and five-year-old son.

And then there was magic.

Video: ANA@EDM, Gm6: Kassian goes five-hole on the break

Kassian and Ferguson are strangers who linked up to produce one of the best Oilers goal celebrations of the year. The seventh man broke the fourth wall - by connecting through the Plexiglas barrier - and revelling in jubilation together after Kassian's breakaway tally in Game 6.

The two locked eyes and shared roars of excitement. They pounded the glass and shared emotion.

They share an affinity for the Oilers and after watching the moment in super slo-mo, you'd think they share a soul.

"I'll never forget about that for the rest of my life," said Ferguson, 37, who admitted he wasn't even going to watch Game 6 because of how he felt after Game 5. The sales representative changed his mind after his wife, Kristin, said she wanted to see a live game.

It's the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Edmonton Oilers are in the Western Conference Semifinals. Of course, memories would be made. This one, though, was unique, bizarre, spontaneous and simply awesome.

"It's one of those things," said Kassian, who scored his third goal of the playoffs on the play. "Spur of the moment in an emotional game, scoring a goal. You just kind of let out a scream, then he's looking at you and you're looking at him.

"I can't explain why I did it, it just happened like that."

The purveyor of pumped up goal celebrations Patrick Maroon thought that was one of the best goal reactions of the Oilers season.

"That's probably one of the tops," said Maroon, his face-quaking celebration with Connor McDavid serving as next best in line. "That was pretty cool, especially in a playoff game where you're looking at a fan and you can't really hear each other because you're screaming back and forth, giving each other fist bumps."

For Ferguson, it all developed fast. He was excited by the evolving play - a Mark Letestu backhand clear from the defensive zone found its way on Kassian's blade. The winger used his speed to take advantage of the gap between the two Ducks defenders, eventually slipping the puck five-hole on John Gibson. Ferguson could see the play coming but he couldn't predict what would unfold after.

"Whenever you see a breakaway like that it's pretty exciting," said Ferguson. "Of course, he got the goal and I jumped up. He came to the Plexiglas with a lot of excitement and an intense look on his face screaming.

"It just transferred over to me and I was super excited and pumped. It was just awesome."

Tweet from @EdmontonOilers: Heading into a new week like... #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/Nur1LIxJst

Kassian said he re-watched the video after the game. He had a good laugh about the shared celebration but maintained that at the time, there was nothing fuelling him but impulse.

"I never plan celebrations or anything," said the winger. "I was just so excited that I just celebrated with the guy."

The moment was much more than just another goal celebration. It transcended the game for the fans and for Kassian. It's a public display that these Oilers truly value Oil Country and want to feel connected to them.

It's also telling of Kassian's relationship with the fan base. His ride to Edmonton wasn't always smooth and he was tepid with regards to how the Oilers faithful would receive him.

"The moment I got traded here, I was a little uneven," said Kassian. "I wasn't sure how fans were going to respond, obviously with me playing in Vancouver and having some hatred here.

"I just wanted to bring my hard work and tenacious game to Edmonton and I knew in a blue-collar city like this, hopefully, I would win over fans eventually."

He has the fans' support all the way.

"How can you not like the guy?" asked Ferguson. "Everything he's been through and he's succeeding. I hope we sign him up for more than a one-year contract."

There's no doubt the Orange Crush has taken over Edmonton for the time being. Even Head Coach Todd McLellan can't help but appreciate the moment, its significance and everything it implies.

"The passion in the city, the passion of the fan, the energy that happens - not only outside of ICE District - but all over the place is incredible," McLellan said. "To share it like that one fan - or two or three fans - did with Zack Kassian, it was personal. It was something I'm sure he'll remember and certainly they will.

"That's why we play the game. We want to keep that going as long as we can. We want to have more moments like that if we can."

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