Oilers fans pack Moss Pit for Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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The Oilers may be in Florida, but at Rogers Place, the beat was loud, the energy palpable — and evidence was everywhere on Saturday night of affection for the Oilers.

Tight security kept ticket holders in snaked lines to join thousands of fellow fans at the plaza party where remnants of June rain sloshed in what was a skating rink way back when the season started.

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Before 6 p.m., the Plaza event had reached capacity, leaving a long line of wannabe-in-theres.

Waiting for the party to start were Denny, Julius, Taye, Carmelo, and Tyler from Enoch reserve, who felt a special connection to the team’s first trip to the Final in 18 years.

“We are all 06-ers, we were born in 2006, and that’s the last time they made the playoffs,” said Tyler.

His prediction? “Oilers in 7,” he said above the din of a drum chant of, “Let’s go Oilers!”

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In the shadow of the Conn Smythe Trophy at Canadian Brew House across from Rogers Place, golf was on the screen before game coverage, but hockey was on the brain — and the jerseys.

Nearby at the Special Teams Store, fans browsed in a special vault-like area for game-worn jerseys, starting in the low $300 and up into the thousands for, say, Connor McDavid.

Entrepreneurs in line from Cookie Crumbs handed out warm freebies — filled waffle pucks.

“If they keep winning, we’ll keep coming back and bringing free pucks,” pledged Agnes Osborne.

Brennan and Tye showed their support in Halloween Samurai costumes, and were disappointed to hear they’d have to take them off to join the plaza celebration.

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“Oilers in six, we win and the city goes wild,” Brennan predicted.

Kurri and Skinner tattooed on one arm, her cats on the other, Tammy Delorey had waited at the front of the plaza party line to get into the watch party since 1 p.m.

Perched on her head, a foam Oilers fascinator she goosed up with navy cut-out letters spelling SKINNER attached to the top.

“He’s a really good goaltender, he’s humble and just wonderful,” she said.

Neil Blue was there, with a jersey signed by the members of the 2006 Oilers.

“My hockey team got to go in to meet the players,” he said, remembering his days on the 2006 Oil Kings.

“It was the playoffs — Chris Pronger had a boot on his leg,” he said.

INSIDE THE ARENA

Inside Rogers Arena, the Rogers Road Game Watch Party felt like game day on steroids, and someone somewhere was making a fortune on orange tinsel.

The floors had that same game-day vibration as the rows filled in, section by section, becoming a blue tide awash in orange.

In the first intermission, between beer runs, the crowd minding the Jumbotron saw the Great One giving his old hometown Oilers tips.

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As the horn blew in the distance signifying a second goal for the Panthers, a collective grown went around the arena like the wave.

There was a gasping then sinking “Ohhh!” as a shot on the Florida goal misses the mark.

True to his biggest fan, Stewart Skinner stood in the gap as players of both stripes dogpiled in front of him, but two early Panthers goals were proving tough for his teammates to overcome, even with Edmonton’s 26 shots on goal to Florida’s 12 at the end of the second period.

A scrap breaking out on the big screen warranted outrage and cheers, just like the game was unfolding on the ice in front of them, anxious fans on tenterhooks for that first Edmonton goal, a big stuffed lynx banging a drum and the crowd screaming, “Let’s go Oilers!”

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