Can you manufacture a rivalry? We’ll find out next Friday. The media in both Edmonton and Red Deer are hoping that facing each other in the post season creates a provincial grudge between the two clubs. It won’t hurt that the two clubs faced each other twice to close out the season and the 2 tilts featured 4 scraps (3 in the first period of Friday night) and both games were essentially one goal games. (RD scored an ENG Saturday night)
It helps that Oiler fans could get to see possible first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for 7 playoff games. In the final 2 games against the Oil Kings RNH notched 3 goals and one assist, scoring 3 terrific ways. A top shelf - one timer from the high slot Friday night, then going short side shelf on Saturday, and following it up by undressing John Groenhyde for the game winner. In 6 games, the youngster who wears #9 as a tribute to Paul Kariya and Maurice Richard, has lit up the Oil Kings for 6 goals and 3 helpers. Only once did Edmonton hold him scoreless, which was also the only time they beat Red Deer this season.
In a conversation with Cam Moon Saturday morning I recalled a story from the 2001 WHL playoffs when a then Red Deer Rebel Kyle Wanvig scored a goal against Calgary in the Enmax Centrium. Wanvig celebrated by skating past the Hitmen bench and Hi-Fiving the Calgary players…who shockingly they weren’t amused. Mooner doesn’t think there is anyone on the current Rebels team that would try to mimic Wanvig, but we can only hope the same type of rivalry develops between the Oil Kings and Rebels that Red Deer and Calgary fans enjoyed.