Yesterday I wrote an article about going to a Norwegian Pro Hockey game that contained about 6 words about the actual game. This is part 2. If you want to comment on something Oilers related you got 99 options but this ain’t one.
One of the first things that stood out at playoff hockey in Norway was one guy on either team wheeling around in a shiny Golden helmet. My
Norwegian seat mate – also known as the Great Beard of 2015 – explained that this was given to the top point getter
on either team going into the game. This is a cool innovation in helmet
technology and surely something Justin Schultz should petition the NHL to adopt
prior to his inevitable Norris Trophy win.
The Våler Gens IF golden helmet wearer wasn’t sporting it by accident either as he
quickly potted a goal and set up another as his squad took a quick 2-1 lead.
Tigers fans began to look dejected as the Våler Gens IF section stood clapped and sang
complicated Norwegian fight songs as their team cut through Tigers defense like knives through hot Norway butter.
With one period in the can I figured now was as good a time
as any to get something to wash down my bottle of sobering non alcoholic water.
Where there would be valuable $250 club seats in prime jersey
throwing position at an NHL arena, here they had a funny little
concession stand selling hotdogs served in tortillas (Note: ???) and tasty
waffle sets covered in jam which were named First Star in the game by my count.
There is a reason that the Oilers can pay Nikita Nikitin $12 billion dollars over 2 years and barely dent the the bottom line
and why players over here make a comfortable but hardly balling living. Say what you want about greedy team owners and league commissioners ruining everything but North American professional sports are
designed to efficiently extract money from your team branded wallet as quickly as you can fork it over.
They are built to do business.
Want a beer? Here you go. Want some sushi with that? No
problem. Want an Oilers brand piggy bank at intermission? Do you want him
wearing a home or away jersey? It’s big league business, charging big league
prices and ostensibly offering big league product* Over here it is waffles,
water and the odd set of clappy hands if you know exactly where to
*Ignoring Oilers, Edmonton 2007-present
THE SECOND FRAME
The second period came and went with more of the same from
those IF bastards. They scored on tipped shots. They scored on a nifty 2 on 1. They
scored each and every way you can imagine and the golden helmet looked smug in his shiny lid as he celebrated with his teammates. And don’t even get me started on the refs. It’s like they wanted IF to throttle the Tigers at home. Bastards.
Ah the home team getting blitzed in front
of its dejected fans. This was the kind of hockey that an Oilers fan can get
behind and reminded me fondly of home. This is exactly the fix I needed.
After watching the smoking remains of the Tigers drag
themselves into the dressing room after 2, I toured the arena taking in the
sights and the smells of a Norwegian facility. It was then where I saw the
banner to end all banners hanging on the concourse wall.
(Imagine an awestruck Wanye doing the Dougie in front of dozens of confused Norwegian hockey fans here)
Here on the other side of the world the
Great One still casts a Champion shadow on the game he will forever rule. I quickly demanded a frazzled local hockey mom of what appeared to be at least 10 kids stop minding her array of rink rats to take my picture in front of 99. Then I stood at attention, saluting the banner and singing the Canadian national anthem at full volume with tears in my eyes until the third period got underway.
As the game marched on the Våler Gens IF continued to score goals seemingly at will. And all us Tigers fans became
quieter and quieter, my Norwegians BFFF included. Although everyone here
is super nice and friendly, the grim prospect of watching their home team
get pumped has been the only time I have seen a Norwegian short of
THE OTHER OILERS
“So you are an Oilers fan” my bearded chum glumly noted during
a stoppage in play. Did you know that there is an Oilers team over here too?
The Stavanger Oilers. They are quite a strong club, not like your Oilers. Maybe you
should switch to them.”
“ANOTHER OILERS!” I exclaimed much too loudly. “Tell me
everything. Spare no detail. Do they have a Jultz too? HAHAHA WHAT A CLOWN I BET HE IS ALL RICH AND WHAT NOT”
The other Oilers play in the top division of Norwegian hockey and won the 2014 IIHF Continental Cup – which ostensibly our Oilers didn’t win because Tambellini is still assessing our chances and developing strategies which will allow us to compete.
Finding another Oilers team is like finding a wormhole in space and accidentally crossing into an alternate dimension. I like their logo, I like their colour scheme. I like their winning ways. Part of me wonders if there is an alternate universe Wanye living in Stavanger eating weird donairs and patiently waiting for the new Snoop Dogg album to drop too.
If these other Oilers hadn’t already seen their season come to an end there would be a part 3 to this Nobel Prize worthy analysis of Hockey over here but sadly they have already wrapped up the 2014-15 season. But I have my eye on you other Oilers. This ain’t over yet.
There can be only one.
And so Game 5 of the playoff series ended in a stone sober beat
down of our beloved home team Tigers with an 8-1 final score. My new Norwegian homie and I sadly parted ways, sure that the next game in the
series would bring a more favourable result. “Come back to Oslo anytime” he said through his impossibly luxurious beard as he crushed my hand in a vicelike handshake and we parted ways.
“Norway loves Canada. Go Oilers.”