If you watched Game 5 of the Western Hockey League championship series Friday night, chances are you just might be unwinding right now.
Wow: what a hockey game, packed with skill, excitement, action … and, if you are an Edmonton Oil King fan, great celebration. Forward Michael St. Croix scored in the first overtime period to give Edmonton a 3-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks, giving the Oil Kings another day. Portland still leads the best-of-seven series 3-2, but St. Croix helped force Game 6 which faces off Sunday at Rexall Place when the clock reaches 4 p.m.
And, if you wattched Friday’s game from Portland on SHAW TV or on whl.ca, you may have heard a comment from broadcaster Peter Loubardias.
I sure did. He made sense, absolutely, when he challenged Edmonton hockey fans to get out and enjoy Game 6.
Because it seems Edmonton fans have not embraced the Oil Kings defending their WHL championship series this spring. Let’s have a look:
•10,947 fans in Portland at the Rose Garden for Game 5 Friday
• 8,400 fans were at Rexall Place for Game 4 Wednesday in Edmonton
•8,513 were at Game 3 Tuesday at Rexall Place
Questioning why Edmonton hasn’t fully supported the Oil Kings defending their WHL crown is, certainly, worth debate.
They are providing entertaining hockey. And, one would think, putting an entertaining product on the ice does more than billboards, bus ads, radio and television spots.
Yet, it hasn’t.
Although the Edmonton Oilers did not make the playoffs, there was a lot of hockey played since January. Funny how that happens when a labor dispute holds a season hostage.
Are we hockeyed out in Edmonton? Are we disappointed the Oilers, who had so much promise going into the season, fell by the wayside?
Or, sadly, are we starting to take the new success of major junior hockey in Edmonton for granted?
Surely, we’re not.
Friday’s game was a fabulous example of young men putting it all on the line: skill, determination, blood, sweat, tears — whatever it takes — to be champions.
Game 6 will have all of that and more.
We all should embrace and celebrate the journey the Edmonton Oil Kings are on — especially on such a meaningful Sunday as Mother’s Day.