The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are set for a playoff edition of the Battle of Alberta for the first time since 1991. Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday evening. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are set for a playoff edition of the Battle of Alberta for the first time since 1991. Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday evening. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Battle of Alberta to provide a boost to Red Deer businesses

The Battle of Alberta is set to be played for the first time since 1991

The City of Red Deer is about to be caught in the middle of a war on the ice.

A post-season edition of the Battle of Alberta will be played for the first since 1991, as the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are set to go head-to-head in Round 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Central Alberta businesses will benefit from this series, predicts Scott Robinson, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO.

“There’s so much passion for both of those teams and … it’s been 31 years since they’ve played each other in the playoffs,” said Robinson.

“With that pent-up history, we know there’s going to be a good response from a hospitality and restaurant level of engagement, as well as any place selling jerseys and those kinds of things are definitely going to see an uptick. I think it’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks here we’re heading into.”

The second-round matchup was made possible thanks to a pair of Game 7 wins for Alberta’s two NHL teams this past weekend: Edmonton topped the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Saturday and Calgary beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime on Sunday.

Robinson said it was exciting to see both teams win their Game 7s to advance to Round 2.

“Whether you’re a Flames fan or an Oilers fan, you were cheering for the opportunity to play each other. Coming out of COVID especially, it really kicks off what will hopefully be a much healthier world,” he said.

“In Red Deer, we’re kind of like Switzerland. We’re neutral territory. There’s probably an equal number of Flames licence plates and Oilers licence plates out there. I think that’s kind of what makes Red Deer unique – we’re right between both cities.”

Brennen Wowk, owner of Bo’s Bar and Stage, said he hopes to see local venues screening the the best-of-seven series packed with fans.

“We’re really excited. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a playoff Battle of Alberta,” he said.

“In Red Deer, we’re right in the middle of two awesome teams and we’re going to see a lot of fans come out and pack the room. We’re going to be showing every game on our big screen, we’re going to have our sound up full. We’re going to make as much energy in that room as possible.”

Even as an Oilers fan, Wowk said he was excited to see Calgary score in overtime during Sunday’s Game 7.

“It was great to see that city come alive when they scored that goal,” he said.

“I’d love to see people in Red Deer support all of the restaurants and bars by packing the rooms. Let’s see how the series plays out.”

Pilar Vasquez, with Chillabong’s Bar and Grill, said the NHL playoffs have helped bring more customers to the establishment.

“We were really excited to see some Canadian teams when we first got into the playoffs,” said Vasquez.

“Obviously with the pandemic we’ve kind of been pretty slow and things have been difficult (over the past couple of years). Getting back the playoffs and having the Oilers and Flames there has definitely increased what we were seeing for clientele.”

Vasquez said she anticipates the Battle of Alberta will help support the local hospitality industry.

“Sports is definitely part of the foundation of our business. Anything like (the Battle of Alberta) will definitely bring in more customers,” she said.

This will be the sixth post-season Battle of Alberta series in NHL history, with previous matchups being played in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1991. The Oilers have won four of the five previous series, only losing to the Flames in 1986.

Several superstars from each team weren’t even born the last time the teams battled each other in the playoffs, including Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who was born in 1997, and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, who was born in 1993.

Game 1 of the Battle of Alberta is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Calgary.

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