logo

Memorable Moments From The Battle of Alberta

alt
Photo credit:Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)
Cam Lewis
8 months ago
The day has finally arrived. After a 31-year hiatus, the Battle of Alberta is back as the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are set to square off in the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
Let’s travel through time and take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from one of hockey’s best rivalries…
The first-ever Battle of Alberta was played on October 22, 1980, at the Northlands Coliseum, with the Oilers skating to a 5-3 win thanks to a two-goal effort from Dave Semenko. In the second period, Mark Messier and Jim Peplinski dropped the gloves in what would be the first of many, many fights between players on these two teams.
Things really started to get going in the second meeting between the teams on December 30, 1980, in Calgary. There were three fights in that game, 211 total penalty minutes between the two teams, four players got penalized for leaving the bench, and 14 misconduct penalties handed out.

Failed to load video.

The Oilers beat the Flames in their first-ever meeting in the playoffs in 1984 in five games and then edged them out the following year in seven games. The Flames lost to the Winnipeg Jets in the first round in 1985 while the Oilers marched to their second of back-to-back Stanley Cups.
By 1986, dozens of head-to-head matchups and multiple playoff series had the heat on the Battle of Alberta rivalry turned up all the way. The teams were having bench brawls in January and it was no surprise that when they again met in the second round of the playoffs in April there were more brawls.
The Flames finally earned their first playoff series win in the Battle of Alberta that year when Steve Smith scored arguably the biggest goal in franchise history.

Failed to load video.

The Flames would wind up losing in the Stanley Cup Final that year to the Montreal Canadiens. They then got dropped in the first round by the Jets in 1987 while the Oilers rolled to their third Stanley Cup.
In 1988, the Flames came into yet another second-round Battle of Alberta series as the favourite. They finished first in the Smythe Division, six points ahead of the Oilers, and they won the last three meetings between the two teams during the regular season, capped off by a 7-4 win on March 5 that featured yet another brawl.
Flames fans in Calgary chanted “Goodbye” as the Oilers left the ice in that game but, one month later, Edmonton got the last laugh, sweeping the Flames in four games. The series was highlighted by this iconic Wayne Gretzky goal in Game 2.

Failed to load video.

The Oilers traded Gretzky to Los Angeles in the off-season and wound up losing to the Kings in the first round of the 1989 playoffs. Gretzky’s Kings then got swept in the second round by the Flames and they went on to win their first-ever Stanley Cup. That win also meant that five of the 10 Stanley Cups in the 1980s were won by Alberta teams.
The Battle of Alberta resumed in 1991 as the Oilers and Flames met in the first round of the playoffs. The series in most remembered for Theo Fleury’s overtime goal and his subsequent celebration, but the Oilers were actually the team that won this series, as Esa Tikkanen scored in overtime in Game 7 to sink the Flames.

Failed to load video.

That series in 1991 was the last time until now that the Oilers and Flames played in the playoffs. The two teams moved into a phase of mediocrity after that, as they didn’t even both appear in the playoffs at the same time until 2006 and then again until 2017, but there was still a handful of memorable moments from what was left of the rivalry.
Things heated up in 2003 between the Oilers and Flames in 2003. In January, head coach Craig MacTavish got fed up with Flames mascot Harvey the Hound and ripped his tongue out from the bench. That October, the Oilers and Flames met in a game that featured a whopping six fights (Krzysztof Oliwa vs. Georges Laraque, Jarome Iginla vs. Cory Cross, Dave Lowry vs. Jason Chimera, Chris Clark vs. Ethan Moreau, Shean Donovan vs. Scott Ferguson, and Chris Clark vs. Scott Ferguson).

Failed to load video.

Even when the rivalry cooled off, the Battle of Alberta featured its fair share of quality fights, such as this spirited tilt between Jarome Iginla and Sheldon Souray and the one-punch knockout of Raitis Ivanans by Steve MacIntyre.
In the 2010s, the focus shifted from toughness to skill as the Oilers moved into a rebuilding period. The 2010-11 season was full of optimism in Edmonton, as the team was welcoming recent No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall and World Junior hero Jordan Eberle to the roster. The first game of the H.O.P.E era got the hype train rolling as the Oilers pounded the Flames 4-0, highlighted by Eberle scoring arguably the nicest first career goal in NHL history.

Failed to load video.

Speaking of debuts, Connor McDavid’s first-ever Battle of Alberta really set the tempo for how he’d perform in this head-to-head. The Oilers lost the first four games of the McDavid era in 2015-16 but the team earned their first win that season in a 5-2 win over the Flames in which McDavid scored two goals and one assist.
McDavid has faced the Flames 34 times in his career and he has 26 goals against them, the most of any opponent.

Failed to load video.

The Battle of Alberta has really come to life again over the past few years. Part of that can be chalked up to both teams being competitive at the same time, but a lot of it is also owed to Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary’s super pest who’s injected a ton of life into the rivalry.
Tkachuk has been getting under the skin of the Oilers since his rookie season in 2016-17. In 2020, a few years worth of tensions finally boiled over when Zack Kassian went ballistic on Tkachuk. After fighting majors, misconducts, and suspensions were handed out, the two teams met again shortly after and everything exploded. Jujhar Khaira fought Buddy Robinson, Tkachuk fought Ethan Bear, and Mike Smith came down the ice and scrapped with Cam Talbot.

Failed to load video.

It was like the 1980s had been brought back to life. That’s the kind of energy we’re looking for as the first playoff Battle of Albera gets underway on Wednesday night.

Check out our YouTube channel!

Failed to load video.

Check out these posts...