January 12, 2018 11:48 am
Updated: January 12, 2018 9:20 pm

First Edmonton Oilers game in Las Vegas draws Albertans to Sin City

WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Oilers will visit the newest expansion team in the NHL for the first time on Saturday. As Vinesh Pratap reports, a lot of fans are joining them.

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If you build it, they will come. That appears to be the case for the new Vegas Golden Knights NHL team, their home — the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip — and Edmonton Oilers fans.

Hundreds of hockey fanatics are headed to Sin City this weekend to take in the Oilers’ first game on Saturday night in the Nevada city.

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“Very excited,” said fan Greg Harvey at the Edmonton International Airport Friday morning.

“As soon as Vegas got a team announced, I told my wife I’m going. And here I am.”

Harvey and his friends are headed to Arizona first, to see the Oilers take on the Coyotes Friday night, before following the team to Vegas. They plan to take in the game and then, “We’ll see where it goes from there,” he chuckled.

The teams have faced off once before, when the Golden Knights came to Edmonton in November.

READ MORE: Vegas Golden Knights lose against Edmonton Oilers but win Twitter

Edmonton businessman and Booster Juice founder Dale Wishewan is one of 19 minority owners of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Former attorney and billionaire Bill Foley is the majority owner.)

Wishewan will be at the game and estimates there could be up to 6,000 Oilers fans in attendance. One woman told Global News her fiancee was in Vegas for the game and his bachelor party — along with 30 friends.

In this June 17, 2016 photo, an advertisement plays on a screen at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

AP Photo/John Locher

The game comes as the Golden Knights are currently first in the Pacific Division. It’s impressive stuff for a team in its inaugural season.

“Who would have thought we would have this kind of start to the season? There’s all kinds of Cup talk, which may be a bit ahead of ourselves,” Wishewan said. “It’s phenomenal how great of a start we’ve had.”

READ MORE: Edmonton business owner ‘jumped at the chance’ to own part of NHL team

Meanwhile, the Oilers are in the bottom three of the division, with only one win in their last eight games.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers’ game against Predators plays out like sad song in Music City

Harvey, who says he goes to Las Vegas at least once a year, isn’t phased by the Oilers’ loosing streak.

“When I looked at the schedule — Phoenix, Vegas — that looked like two easy wins, but it might be the opposite this time. But it doesn’t matter, it’s Vegas!”

Buddies Gord Springel and Darryl Anhorn have been planning their trip since October, and it will be their first time in Vegas. Their wives bought them the four-day trip as a Christmas gift.

“I’m thinking there’s going to be a ton of fans down there, honestly. It’s making me go to Vegas!” Anhorn laughed.

“I’m kinda the opposite,” Springel countered. “I’ve heard that the Golden Knights are really popular over there, right? So I think their tickets might be getting snatched up by native Las Vegas people.”

READ MORE: Could Vegas be the new breed of NHL expansion teams?

Captain Connor McDavid also turns 21 on Saturday, and the Oilers have a week off after playing the Golden Knights. Happy birthday, indeed.

The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT.

— With files from Christine Meadows, Global News

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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