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‘We want the cup’: Fans pack plaza as Edmonton Oilers force winner-take-all Stanley Cup final

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers fans in frenzy after Game 6 win in Stanley Cup playoffs'
Edmonton Oilers fans in frenzy after Game 6 win in Stanley Cup playoffs
WATCH: The Edmonton Oilers are headed to Florida for a deciding game seven on Monday where they could complete an historic comeback in the Stanley Cup final. Written off over a week ago after falling behind three games to nothing against the Panthers, the team and their fans never stopped believing they would get this far. Jeff Semple has the latest on the wave of blue and orange sweeping the city and across Canada. – Jun 22, 2024

Thousands of deliriously happy fans of the Edmonton Oilers roared as one Friday as the hometown blue and orange ran over the Florida Panthers to set up a winner-take-all Game 7 in the Stanley Cup final.

“We want the cup! We want the cup!” chanted fans inside Rogers Place while the Oilers circled at centre ice with sticks skyward saluting all after the 5-1 win.

Outside the arena, fans whooped, hollered and cheered below the main viewing screen dominating the plaza known as the Moss Pit — named for the team’s late, much beloved locker room attendant Joey Moss — as the team’s signature La Bamba victory song played.

Click to play video: 'Deliriously happy Edmonton Oilers fans celebrate Game 6 win'
Deliriously happy Edmonton Oilers fans celebrate Game 6 win
Fans gathering in the plaza before Game Six of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final between Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on June 21, 2024. Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

“I’m going to have no voice tomorrow, probably no voice next week,” said Jenessa Schafer, clad in her Oilers jersey, arm-in-arm with her mom.

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The pair made a mad dash from their homes in Saskatchewan earlier in the day to join Friday’s Moss Pit viewing party.

“We had to (come). This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and we couldn’t miss it,” said Clareen Schafer. “We’re just thrilled to be here and be a part of this electric atmosphere.

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“It’s just the most unbelievable,” she said, then paused.

Fans dressed in Oilers jerseys, dominated by those in the home blue, accented by fans in road whites and retro oranges. Most sported the prime numbers of the team’s alpha players: 97 for Connor McDavid and 29 for Leon Draisaitl.
Click to play video: 'Legendary Edmonton Oilers broadcaster speaks about team’s success'
Legendary Edmonton Oilers broadcaster speaks about team’s success

They wore hard hats and cowboy hats. There were mash-ups and crossovers, like the three fans who wore Oilers jerseys with Oiler-accented Star Wars storm trooper helmets.

Edmonton Oilers fans arrive for Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup final against the Florida Panthers in Edmonton, Friday, June 21, 2024. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

Nearby, two fans piloted an Oiler-bedecked Zamboni at parade speed through downtown to the honks and horns of other drivers.

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They held aloft oversized pictures of Draisaitl’s head and faux DIY Stanley Cup mugs. They sang and tossed a beach ball and chanted, “Let’s go, Oilers!”

LJ Muskwa, a fan since age nine, set the tempo, banging on a drum decorated with an Indigenous-themed Oilers logo.

There were hugs and high fives, horn honks, whistles and confetti when the Oilers took a 1-0 lead after the first period. The Oil kept rolling, grinding down the team nicknamed for an endangered Florida state species.

Edmonton Oilers fans Richard Schultz, left, and Brandon Lyle arrive for Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup final against the Florida Panthers in Edmonton, Friday, June 21, 2024. Jeff McIntosh/ The Canadian Press

Japjot Singh, dressed in an Oilers white road jersey, said he’s been going to the Moss Pit since the first game this spring to cheer on the team he started following when he lived in India years ago.

“I’ve been a crazy fan of them. Every game matters to me. No matter how many games come and go, I’m going to be there for them,” he said.

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The celebration has been going on for two months in Edmonton, a city that has five Stanley Cups, but has not won since 1990. The last chance came in 2006, when the Oilers lost in seven games to another U.S. Sun Belt squad, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Click to play video: '‘Keep believing’: Oilers fans hope for Stanley Cup Final comeback'
‘Keep believing’: Oilers fans hope for Stanley Cup Final comeback

Friday’s win puts the Oilers in rarefied territory. If they beat the Panthers on Monday in Sunrise, Fla., — less than an hour’s drive from downtown Miami — they become the first Canadian team since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 to bring the cup back across the border.

And only one other team in NHL history has ever come back from three games down to win four in a row in a Stanley Cup final: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.

So, for thousands upon thousands of fans in the Alberta capital who have occupied this spring flag-waving, body-tattooing, chalk-drawing, face-painting and car-decorating everything in the symmetrically gooey oil drop logo, the way forward is simple:

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Channel your inner Toronto Maple Leaf and, on Monday, Stanley is yours.

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