The two Western Hockey League teams have met once previously in the post-season, but that 2009 series was a 1 vs. 8 first-round matchup between an Oil Kings outfit that was probably just happy to be making its first playoff appearance and a juggernaut Hitmen whose loss in the WHL final is still a source of disbelief. It is noteworthy that the lines between two cities who compete at everything — business, politics, hockey, curling, the CFL — are somewhat blurred, since the world is too small for that.
You probably have to be there to know who is more likely to apply the NHL rivalry on to the WHL. A gut instinct is that attitude might flow a little more from Edmonton. The Oil Kings are heavy faves, plus the big-league Oilers are providing little.
The intersection, as anyone acquainted with junior puck knows by now, starts with Oil Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit, who was recently signed by the Flames.
"For me, I feel it’s a win-win," Brossoit said. "I’ll have support on both sides."
He’ll find out just how much support. "
I wouldn’t say (Calgary fans) would be cheering for me," he added. "I’m sure they’ll want the Hitmen to win, but I’m sure they’ll want it to be in a 1-0 type game."
... Asked if he wears anything with a Flames logo around the rink, and there couldn’t be a more foreign thought.
"Oh, no! God, no!" he said. "Yeah, that would be ballsy. That’s not something I’m prepared to do.
"I leave all the Flames memorabilia at home safe there where no Edmonton Oilers fans can get at it." Sportsnet)
That once an Oiler, always an Oiler millstone adage even applies to some of the Hitmen. Defenceman Jaynen Rissling, even after four seasons playing out of the Saddledome and after being drafted by the Washington Capitals, still professes loyalty to the copper and blue.
From Scott Fisher:
A Washington Capitals draft pick who plays in Calgary is an Oilers fan?
“They’ve gone through some struggles,” Rissling said. “But once you’re an Oilers fan, you have to be loyal to them. I try to cheer for the Capitals, but I pay more attention to how they’re doing and how their prospects are.” (Calgary Sun)
One suspects this was as much by happenstance, probably more, than design: the Oil Kings have a deeper Alberta flavour to their lineup, with 12 players from Wild Rose Country to the Hitmen's eight.
Eleven of the Oil Kings' dozen hail from the central or northern region of the province. The one exception, Mitch Moroz, isn't even really an exception. He hails from Calgary, but was born in Edmonton and was drafted by the Oilers last summer.
Calgary's Alberta Eight splits 4-4 between the north and south parts of the province. Along with Rissling, Calgary centre Greg Chase (Sherwood Park), left wing Colten Mayor (St. Albert) and defenceman Kenton Helgesen (Fairview) hail from up north. Just another wrinkle in what could be a enlivening series.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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