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Canadians throw parties, gather with friends to cheer on Oilers in Stanley Cup final

Edmonton Oilers players celebrate the win over the Florida Panthers following Game 6 action of the NHL Stanley Cup final in Edmonton on Friday, June 21, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Edmonton Oilers players celebrate the win over the Florida Panthers following Game 6 action of the NHL Stanley Cup final in Edmonton on Friday, June 21, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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The Edmonton Oilers may not be on home ice when they try to clinch the Stanley Cup against the Florida Panthers on Monday night, but screams of support will resound across Canada from rink side watch parties, bars, seniors homes and ordinary living rooms.

"We cheer them on every single game of the season," said Derrick DeMone, an Oilers fan in Sydney, N.S., who will be watching at home with his sons, aged 24, 14 and 12.

"I haven't felt like this since I was a young boy, I'll tell you that."

DeMone's home is something of a shrine to his favourite team, with Oilers jerseys, blankets and pillows decorating the inside and several Oilers flags flying outside.

In a city where he's usually outnumbered by Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins fans, DeMone said locals have come to associate him with the team he backs.

"If I'm not wearing an article of Oilers, whether it's a hat or a hoodie, then I'm not out in the public," he said with a laugh.

In Edmonton, thousands of fans have been packing Rogers Place for both home and away games during the playoffs, while thousands more watch giant screens outside the arena.

One of those outdoor parties is where Mama Stanley, whose real name is Mary Loewen, will be dressed as the Stanley Cup, cheering on the team while also posing for photos with fellow fans.

"People are saying, 'Let's fly to Florida.' No. I want to be with the people in my kingdom," Loewen said Saturday when speaking about her plans for the final game.

Just northwest of Edmonton where residents of a seniors home have been posting Oilers fan videos to TikTok, another release is planned for Monday afternoon.

Some of the videos, which feature residents of Everitt Gardens in St. Albert dancing and wearing jerseys and face paint, have garnered tens of thousands of views.

"Our residents love the Oilers, they're all in the spirit. They like to get dressed up. Some watch it in their suites, some watch it together on their screen," said Lori Kary, the home's recreation therapist.

"One of our residents like to watch it in his suite ... but whenever the games end and the Oilers do win, he actually opens his door and yells, 'Woot! Woot!' down the hall."

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch's hometown of Imperial, Sask., will be hosting a watch party at the local rink on Monday night with a special treat -- leftover brisket from Rockin' The Rink, a party held on Saturday night to celebrate the anniversary of the facility getting a new concrete floor.

The town's chief administrator Joslin Freeman, who is Knoblauch's cousin, said they're expecting a good crowd in the town of 372 for the deciding game of the series.

"I texted Kris the other night," she said Sunday. "I said, 'I'm glad you couldn't be here for Rockin' The Rink, but I'll throw you one hell of a party when you bring the Stanley Cup home."'

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was born north of Edmonton in Peace River, Alta., added her voice to the cross-Canada chorus of support. She said she grew up with the Oilers' "City of Champions" dynasty that won five Cups in seven seasons between 1984 and 1990.

"I think today the captain of all of team Canada is (Oilers captain) Connor McDavid, who's a great Ontario boy," Freeland said in Ottawa. "And I want him to know that all of us are cheering for him. So let's say 'Go Oilers!"'

The Stanley Cup final has been a nerve-wracking affair for both sides, with the Oilers losing the first three games of the best-of-seven series before rebounding with three wins of their own. The turnarround began when they trounced the Panthers 8-1 in Game 4. Another win on Monday would make the Oilers just the fifth team in NHL history to win a best-of-seven playoff series after trailing 3-0.

If they win the Cup on Monday night, Demone said he's already told his sons he's planning a victory drive around Sydney after the game.

"I'll maybe message some of my friends that like the Oilers and see if we can get a little mini-parade on the go," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2024.

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