Superfan Mama Stanley ready to cheer on the Edmonton Oilers in their quest for the Cup

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With the Oilers on the doorstep of the Stanley Cup, Mary Loewen has her job cut out.

As Mama Stanley, her sworn duty is to cheer the Oilers to victory, under layers of Cup adornment: silver makeup, a tinsel wig, a silver crown with 3,200 hand-applied sequins, and silver blazers.

Then there’s the white moccasins — a nod to her Indigenous heritage, and her upbringing on Keeseekoose First Nation on the border of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

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Now she’s ready to dazzle, crackling with positivity.

“I’m all about the energy,” she says, a smile lighting up the face known to thousands as just “Mama Stanley.”

Not an easy life

There’s one more layer to her costume: a faint scent of Alfred Sung — her perfume of choice for decades, and a sweet reminder of the severely handicapped son who knew she was near when he smelled the citrusy floral.

“Ryan knew the scent, so if he was in hospital, I could just come and stand near him, and despite him being blind, he could smell my perfume and know I was near, and he was so happy.”

No, life’s not been easy for Mary “Mama Stanley” Loewen.

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A bout of pneumococcal meningitis left her infant son Ryan Ironeagle forever a child, unable to see or walk or talk, yet somehow he managed to rally for game day, chuckling and glowing in the excitement in his stroller.

Back in the heady days when Mark Messier stormed the ice, she encountered “the Messiah” when she was walking with Ryan in his adult-size stroller, and her daughter Katrina.

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“Mark was amazing. He was happy to come over. He put his hand on Ryan’s shoulder and asked him, ‘Hey, buddy, how’re you doing? Are you enjoying yourself? Glad you could come to the game!’ and making small talk with him. Ryan was laughing and loving the energy,” she recalled.

“Mark talked to my son like there was no handicap, like he was a real person,” Loewen said.

She cared for Ryan around the clock, alternating shifts with her partner so she could earn money driving cab.

Ryan died in 2013 at the age of 28 after a severe bout of pneumonia, after a life of pain.

For Loewen’s family, it was as if the hub of all the family spokes had broken, without Ryan’s pent-up joy, without him to care for.

“We were lost,” she remembered.

Balloons, cake and the works mark his “angelversary” each year.

A decade on, she recalls caring for her son as a huge privilege that made her life, Loewen said.

Bringing joy and hope to Oilers fans

Over the last three years, she’s assumed the Mama Stanley persona come playoff time — a hobby that keeps her glued to her arena seat or the TV, to the last horn of the game, if they’re behind or ahead or tied.

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Edmonton Oilers Superfan Mary Loewen, a.k.a. Mama Stanley
Superfan Mary Loewen aka Mama Stanley on Wednesday, June 5, 2024 in Edmonton. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

She has her superstitions: the two games of the semifinals that the Oilers gave up coincided with the two days she forgot to spritz her signature cologne.

Coincidence?

Mary Loewen thinks not.

Asked about her team’s prospects, she has no doubt as she rattles off the lineup of players names.

“They’re gonna win this time. I’ve seen Connor McDavid want it. And I believe in the Oilers,” she said.

Mary Loewen loves the Oilers, and now others who love the Oilers love her.

People come up to her on game day when she’s in her full shining regalia.

Some even stop her at corners, in her car, to snap a photo or to tell her what an inspiration she is.

A grandmother of three, the St. Albert resident has been interviewed on commercial radio, on TV news programs.

And now, the NHL is paying attention, with their millions of followers.

“They messaged me a few days ago and they’d like to come out and video me getting ready,” she said with that Superfan smile.

The ultimate compliment?

One woman even made her a doll of herself, cherubic and smiling under a mop of tinsel hair.

“I just got a message that said Edmonton loves me and people love me across the country,” she said, scrolling through her phone.

“It feels amazing — I love this ride that I’m on, and I’m just happy that I bring joy and hope to people.”

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