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In Florida for Game 7 and I still can’t believe it

Astronauts
Photo credit:Jason Gregor
baggedmilk
29 days ago
I started writing this article at the airport Chili’s in Edmonton and was almost in disbelief that I was only an hour away from taking off for Florida again. When Jay, Tyler, Liam, and I went down for Games 1 and 2, I assumed that would be the last time I’d head to Sunrise. I thought the adventure was over. Boy, was I ever wrong.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rattled about the Oilers losing the first three games — we all were, of course — but how they’ve pulled themselves back into the fight was truly remarkable. Even though the entire hockey world counted them out, the boys in the room believed they could climb out of the hole, and the way they made it happen has been a ride I’ll never forget.
Even so, the job’s not done yet. As much as watching the boys pull themselves back from the dead is fun, no one will be truly satisfied unless there’s a trophy coming back on the plane to Edmonton.
Once we got on the plane, it was hard not to be excited about what was happening around me. Even with more than a day until puck drop, how could you not get caught up in the excitement? Everyone on board was wearing a jersey or some merch, and it wasn’t long before the ‘Let’s-Go Oil-ers’ chants started breaking out.
The vibes couldn’t have been better, and the positivity was intoxicating.
We had guys wearing astronaut costumes, one guy brought a Stanley Cup replica, there were wigs everywhere, and all I could think about was how Amerant Bank Arena was going to have a lot of blue and orange in it and how Oilers fans deserve this moment so damned much. If the airport on Sunday morning was any indication, there would be a lot of Oilers fans making the trek.
It seemed like everywhere I looked was another person dawning Edmonton’s colours, and I couldn’t be more proud to see the support for a team that was doubted by so many.
When the flight took off, it wasn’t long before the atmosphere on the plane turned into something special. Despite it not even being noon yet, the drinks were flowing, people were wandering the isles to meet fellow fans, and it was the happiest I’d ever been to be on an airplane.
There was music playing, drinks flowing, Oilers chants happening, and 95 of the happiest faces I’ve seen in a long time, all brimming with anticipation about the game that’s happening a few hours from now. It almost felt like being on a Friday flight to Vegas or the first day at an all-inclusive resort. Without question, these were our people.
Despite meeting many folks that morning or even on the plane, it felt like a group of old friends getting together to celebrate something special. That’s not to say that anyone was getting ahead of themselves, but instead, operating with the understanding of how nuts it is to be in this situation.
If you’ve been a fan for any length of time, you know how well Oilers fans travel, and it’s incredible to see how many of us threw reasonable financial planning to the wind for one damned game. I had the chance to talk to a handful of folks sitting around me, and without fail, the belief was sky-high. People came on this trip because they wanted to experience something unbelievable, and who better to do it with than a plane full of friendly faces?
This season has been so crazy from start to finish that nothing seems impossible anymore, so why not us? Why not now?
After a quick stop in Kansas City to fuel up, the bird was back in the air with only a couple of hours to wait until we touched down in Fort Lauderdale. With every kilometre travelled, the anticipation grew. And since there was a whole night ahead of us, everyone on the plane was geared up to keep the party going.
No matter where folks were staying or where they were hanging their hat for the night, the goal was to have the best time possible because moments like this don’t happen every day.
I don’t know that I’ve ever left an airport faster than we did once we finally arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The plan was to get to the hotel, check-in, drop our clothes off, grab something to eat, and get ourselves into the Elbo Room as quickly as possible.
Successful in our mission, we sweatily walked into an absolute scene at the Elbo Room. Not only were there Oilers fans everywhere but there were also names and faces that you’d certainly recognize from the ice and on TV.
Everywhere I looked, chaos was happening in the best possible way, and if I didn’t have a full Monday to get through before puck drop, I probably would have skipped sleeping entirely and shut the place down.
Now, I’m waking up in my hotel room in Fort Lauderdale, shaking the cobwebs off, and trying my best to be productive even though the last thing I wanted to do was work. Today is all about celebrating the journey and enjoying the moment, knowing how ridiculous it is that we can even talk about Game 7.
I’ve worked for Oilersnation for 16 years, and most of that time was spent in misery. Now, only hours before the biggest game in the website’s history, having draft parties be our Stanley Cup seems like forever ago. Frankly, it’s amazing that hope never died after so many years of heartbreak. Instead, Nation Citizens rode the rollercoaster of hope and horror for nearly two decades without so much as a sniff of success.
So, to have the Oilers pull themselves back from the dead multiple times this season to the point of giving themselves a chance to win hockey’s ultimate prize, I can’t help but feel so happy about the journey even though the job’s not done.
No matter what happens tonight, I’m so happy to have been able to share this journey with so many of you over the years. To say that this has been a journey for the fan base would be the understatement of a lifetime, and I couldn’t think of a group of people who deserve this more.
On Saturday, I wrote my 4000th article for this website, and it feels almost fitting that #4002 is leading up to the biggest game of all. If you had told me the Oilers would be in Game 7 of the SCF back in November, I would never have believed you.
No matter the roadblocks, I would make this trip happen.
Despite what my financial advisor would say, I would not miss this, even if it meant paying the trip off for months. Is it the smartest thing I’ve ever done? No. Do I regret my life choices? Absolutely not.
Oilersnation.com started in 2007, and we are just hoping for a moment like this one. And now that it’s here, I’m so excited about puck drop that I can barely concentrate on anything other than the hockey game. Yet, what would you expect?
The Edmonton Oilers have the chance to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports, and while I know it won’t be easy, I believe in this team and their ability to prove the world wrong. I believe in the La Bamba Mentality.
These next 60 minutes of play will be as stressful as it gets for all of us, but at the same time, this is also the moment we dreamed about since Jay and Wanye founded this site all those years ago. If hope never died during the Decade of Darkness, that candle has to be burning brighter than ever today. No, the job’s not finished, but if there was ever a team that could write a storybook ending, I know where I’m putting my money.
Against all odds and despite all the noise, the Edmonton Oilers earned an opportunity at greatness, and we’ve all done our part to help make it happen.
No matter where you’re watching the game, I hope you enjoy it with those who mean the most to you. You deserve this, and I’m incredibly hopeful that we’ll be celebrating one more win in the morning. LFGoilers.

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