Oilers put storybook ending on Northlands
Hockey: Okotoks wins final game at former home of NHL squad
Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017 06:00 am
A fitting send-off to the former home of Edmonton’s NHL club went the way of the Oilers.
The Okotoks Junior A Oilers made it two wins in six days over the Spruce Grove Saints in a 6-4 triumph Friday in front of an Alberta Junior Hockey League record 5,989 fans bidding adieu to the old barn in the final competitive game played at Northlands Coliseum.
“It was awesome, they had just about six thousand fans there, obviously the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” said Oilers defenceman Kylor Wall, an Edmonton native. “It was a really humbling experience for me, going to lots of Oilers games growing up and just knowing that atmosphere, being there for the last game ever was something special.”
Wall as well as forwards Tanner Laderoute and Kaleb Ergang grew up in the Edmonton area idolizing the NHL squad, which moved from Northlands to the state-of-the-art Rogers Arena in the 2016-17 season.
Skating under the bright lights of a former NHL rink for the final time, the green-and-gold still had a job to do in getting the better of one of the top teams in the province.
That’s quite the balancing act.
“It was unbelievable. I’ve never played in front of that many people before,” said Oilers alternate captain Kyle Gordon. “Being in the room, getting to see the Edmonton room, meeting Ryan Smyth, all of that was so much fun.
“Spruce is a really good team, a hard team to beat. We had to have our moment real quick and get it over with and focus on winning the game.”
The teams traded goals in the first period through Saint Nick Leyer and Oiler Ben Sanderson. Wall gave the Oilers the lead early in period two with a wrist-shot on the powerplay.
“I had lots of family there,” Wall said. “About 30 people came out to watch me so it was the perfect time to get one in.”
Laderoute and Sanderson scored in quick succession, Gordon added another late in the middle stanza. Gordon knocked in a late insurance tally in the final three minutes to put the result to bed, giving the visitors their fourth-straight victory and one that puts them in the record books of the famed arena.