Oilers and Flames Battle of Alberta alumni remember from previous qualifiers - TSN.ca

Oilers and Flames Battle of Alberta alumni remember from previous qualifiers – TSN.ca

Martí Gilinas witnessed the Battle of Alberta from both sides over several years but there is one memory that stands out above the rest.

On April 14, 1991 during game 6 overtime of the Smith League semi-finals, Calgary Flames forward Theo Florey broke through Mark Messier’s pass in the neutral zone and beat Edmonton Oilers goalkeeper Grant Four to level the series 3-3.

Jilinas was only 20 years old and in his third season as a left winger with the Oilers, in their last playoff series they played against the Flames, in 1991. There were plenty of goals, fights and penalties in that seven-game series, but the previous draft pick for the first round He will never forget Florey’s celebration after he scored in overtime to end Match 6.

Florey slid to his knees across the ice center at Edmonton’s old Northlands Coliseum, an iconic celebration that still shines a spotlight on reels three decades later. But for the home team the Oilers that night, Florey’s celebration was the driving force for Game 7, which Edmonton won with an additional goal by Issa Tekanen.

Jilinas, who now works in player development for the Flames, still remembers – 31 years later – the impact that Florey’s celebration had on the underdog Oilers.

“I remember Theo Florey coming into our building in Edmonton and he scored in overtime and went the entire length of the ice and got on his knees and celebrated,” Gilinas recalls. “You know, this stuff feeds the opposing team and it fed us. We went to Calgary on Game 7… that goal [by Fleury] stuck with us.”

Gilinas, now 51, spent parts of five seasons with the Oilers (and was part of Wayne Gretzky’s comeback when number 99 was handed out to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988), and also scored several big goals for the Oilers. Flames during their 2004 run to the Stanley Cup Final.

In the ancient department of Smythe, postseason battles in Alberta were not once-in-a-generation events, but roughly annual springtime rites. Between the 1982-83 and 1990-91 seasons, the two teams met in the playoffs five times, and the Oilers won four of those encounters.

“I think the cities were a bit excited because the two teams were always on the front line at the time,” Joel Otto, who was a big, rugged hub for the Flames teams, told TSN.

“Having bragging rights is a big deal here in Alberta. Unfortunately, Edmonton has often outdone us, but they’ve been some memorable series and we’re all looking forward to this tour. It’s been a long time coming.”

In those days, Alberta opponents would play each other up to 16 times during the regular season – and that accumulated feud would carry over beyond the season. For Otto, now 60, the physicality of those rides stands out.

“I remember the 1991 qualifiers were very physical,” he said. “I kept saying after the fact that I didn’t take such a hard hit so many times. Edmonton had a pretty great defense. That’s how I played the game.”

He is not alone.

“There was a lot of hate,” former Flims goalkeeper Mike Vernon said. “I was lucky enough to play in the 1986 series and it was just a mess. Even the coaches got in it, they jumped over the glass to get a stick thrown into the crowd. There was a lot going on. It was probably a lot of fitness.”

“It was a jungle outside,” Gilinas said.

While the matches were rowdy on the ice, fans were friendly towards it.

“The fans were very respectful,” Otto said. “They were great…the passion of the fans was mostly the same, only the stakes were higher during the qualifiers.”

Vernon agreed, although he had one intense experience that included Flames fans in Edmonton.

“One time, I made a mistake on a casual day by going to the golf course and hitting some balls on the field,” he said. “My fans were like, Shouldn’t you be training? Shouldn’t you be doing this? Shouldn’t you be doing that? I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m out here.'”

Vernon, now 59, recalls his gaming sophistication.

“The coaches don’t say much, they hide things, they say things off the wall, and you scratch your head,” he said. “It’s all about keeping your team focused on their job on the ice.”

Vernon, of Calgary, felt extra pressure from his brilliance against regional rivals.

“There’s a lot of excitement about that, but there’s also that pressure,” he said. “Grant Four was the same way [growing up in Edmonton]. Patrick Roy played for the Montreal Canadiens and grew up in Montreal. It adds a lot of pressure, no doubt. This is just part of the game. That’s what pushes us a little bit and maybe even forces us to play better. Us three, we had longevity in the NHL. It also pushed us to be better players, I think.”

There’s no doubt that graduates from both teams will be watching this second-round series starting Wednesday in Calgary, as a new chapter of the Battle of Alberta is being written.

“I’m expecting good hockey but very physical,” Vernon said. “I think with the two referees system, you can’t get anything off the ice. I think discipline is going to be a big key in this. Teams don’t want to be in the penalty area. Both teams are playing very aggressively… I think both teams will play very cautiously of That viewpoint, so you’ll only see good hits. You’ll see great hockey. It’s giving.”



2022-05-17 23:10:16

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