Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dredging up the past: April 29, 1997

Well, it looks like the tumbleweeds are starting to congregate in the normally bustling Oilogosphere as we progress further and further into this Edmonton-free post-season, with even stalwart daily poster Lowetide taking a few days off as the Oilers-related news topics have continued to dwindle.

So what better time than to do what Oilers fans do best and wallow in ancient history? I must admit that the date slipped right past me unnoticed, but as Scarlett pointed it out on her blog All Oil All The Time two Sundays ago, April 29th marked the 10th anniversary of Edmonton's first playoff victory after a five-year absence from the second season.

As some of you may or may not recall, it was in overtime on that Tuesday night in 1997 that a certain Mr. Todd Marchant exploded the minds of a generation of wounded, defensive young hockey fans when he took a pass from Doug Weight, blew by a creaky-looking Grant Ledyard and beat former Oiler Andy Moog high and to the blocker side ... High, and to the blocker. High, and to the blocker. High, and to the blocker. That, coupled with Cujo's absolutely fucking reality-bending save on Joe Nieuwendyk just moments before, was enough to send the powerhouse Dallas Stars packing, while allowing the Oilers to advance to the second round where certain elimination awaited at the hands of the Avalanche.

I remember I was in a basement of a house in Strathearn Heights that night, drinking Pilsner from the can and watching the game with friends Kenny and Jay. I was wearing a novelty-sized cowboy hat and a recently-made-obselete Jason Arnott jersey. Like most who had grown up in the lean years, the (spits) Corson Years, we were hesitant to give our hearts away too easily to the throes of unbridled fandom, and we made the Oilers work for our love. Up until the moment Marchant scored, there was still the lingering expectation of failure, that surely, despite our heroics to force Game 7, this could only end in the most obvious, logical way. Who, then, could have imagined how things would turn out?

Joseph's save put us on the edge of our sofa cushions. And, after an instant of stunned disbelief, Marchant's goal sent us leaping into the air, hollering and hugging like drunken idiots. The look on Nieuwendyk's face after Joseph's save still sends shivers of ecstasy down my spine. April 29, 1997, was the beginning of the Oilers I know and, occasionally, love today.

So, like, where were you guys?


scotty said...

I remember that game vividly. I was sitting in the bar at Chili's on 170 st and Stony Plain Road, hepped up on nachos and dr. pepper, screaming my fool head off.

Doogie said...

In the back of my aunt's van driving to visit my sister after she'd had a baby, I think. Up to that point, I'd been a Habs fan, but between the various pieces of mismanagement and this moment here, my primary allegiance was pretty effectively flipped that day.

Funny seeing Lowe come off the bench after that goal. He had that look like, "I didn't think I'd actually see this again." And hey, remember when Mike Grier was an Oiler? Me, too.

Sean said...

Basement of my house. I jumped up so hard when Marchant scored I bloodied my knuckles hitting the ceiling. The scars still remind of this goal to this day. This was also the game I became a lifelong fan. Hard to believe it's been 10 years.

young d said...

Billiard Club.
Had shots after. I think.

Scott H said...

I was in a 15-passenger van driving overnight from Edmonton to Vancouver with a group of fellow grade 12 students on a scuba diving trip.

We were listening to Roddy Phillips come unglued as we drove.

As the overtime started we were somewhere between Hinton and Jasper. We had to crank the volume to hear the play-by-play of the OT over the static.

No word of a lie, we could barely hear Roddy's screams when Marchant scored and no more than one minute later it was complete static.

Julian said...

hah, i sprained my fingers when i jumped up and punched the ceiling.

that's the game that slowly suckered me back into the oilers as well.

plus i won a bet with a friend. $20 was alot to me then.

jesserobbins said...

I don't remember exactly where my 11 year old self was (presumably my parents' basement), but I definately remember the goal. 96-97 was the first season that I followed the Oilers closely, and that goal solidified me as a lifelong Oilers and a lifelong hockey fan. My only memories of the glory years involve falling asleep in a car seat listening to Rod Phillips, so for prepubescent me, that win might as well have been game 7 of the SCF.

Stan the Caddy said...

I had watched the whole game on CBC, but since the OT started after my bedtime, my mom sent me off to go to sleep. I'll never forgive her for that one. But in a way, I'm happy I heard Rod's call of the whole OT, although I don't think I understood the magnitude of Cujo's save by his description alone. What an amazing moment, I remember jumping out of bed and running up and down the hallway screaming. My older brother, who was by no means a hockey or Oiler fan at that time, was hooting and hollering from his room where he got to see it live. I loved the KISS song spliced with Rod going crazy, that always got me so pumped!

"Book a flight to Denver!"

What a great team we had back then. Game three was probably my fondest Oiler memory. I remember thinking I was going to pass out because the place was so loud going into OT. I can remember leaning to my Dad with 5 minutes left asking if we should head out (i figured he was only there for my sake and he might want to get a jump on traffic). He quickly snapped back "No!" without taking an eye off the action. One minute later, Dougie found the back of the net with an innocent looking backhander. After a PP goal from "The Tank," I remember thinking, "Ok, they have a chance, they just have to rest their big guns and..." and before I could finish my thought, the faceoff goes back to Luke Richardson, who throws it to Dan McGillis for a one-timer that gets tipped in by Rosie. Wow did the lid blow off. I don't remember what happened in the final minute of regulation but I know there was an incredible buzz in the more than adequate concourse. People told stories of being on the LRT and turning back after Kovalenko's goal. Others didn't turn back until they had gotten to Jasper Ave and barely made it back for the OT. I'm not sure they'd let people back in nowadays but it was great to have a full joint when Mats Lindgren took a big hit to drop the puck to Kelly Buck, and with Rosie wreaking havok in front, Bucky snapped it by Moog and we were up 2-1. Just like every Oilers team I've ever known, still, nobody gave them a chance.

Watching this video still gives me chills and it makes me miss this team. Now that Smytty is gone, is it safe to say there is no one left from this team (still wearing equipment)? Anyone remember Joe Hulbig's beauty hit (I think it was game seven)?

Anonymous said...

I was being a bartender at Whyte Ave Earl's, the place was empty (the whole south side was eerily quiet during games back then). We were watching on a small TV set up in the kitchen and after the goal the whole place filled up in like 5 -10 minutes as every guy living in a walkup apartment in a 3 block radius ran out of their house to the closest liquor serving location to celebrate.

I think it had something to do with seeing other fellow citizens to confirm that, yes, the Coilers had once again won a Playoff Series, that it was possible again. Total madness, all the normal rules did not apply that evening.


Anonymous said...

I was in my basement apartment in Calgary (towards the end of my second year of college), watching the game crouched in front of my 13" TV, wearing my new home Oilers jersey that I had just bought that day (to this day, it's my lucky jersey). I was so hungry by the time OT hit, but I was so nervous that all I could stomach was raw spaghetti. So, there I was, nibbling on strand after crunchy strand when Marchant scored the goal. After 11 years of drifting from the Oilers flock, I was back full time as a fan.

James Mirtle said...

I... don't... remember.

Anonymous said...

We're talking about a first-round playoff series triumph?? That has the whiff of Canucks-fan about it.

garnet said...

I was in the basement of the Black Dog. You probably assumed as much.

Anonymous said...

I was in grad 9 and in my parents basement when the goal was scored...I pretty much got up and left went Cujo made The Save on Nieuwendyk...my bro said "he made the save!!" and rushed back and looked in awe as I saw the replay again and again....when Marchant scored I was so happy that I jumped off my couch and sprained my ankle

I still remember the Journal headline the next morning:
"Bring on the Avs!"

Basically, the beginning of my obsession of the Oil


Steve said...

Like most people of my particular vintage in this comments section, I too was in my parents' basement. I was watching it with my dad, who's a pretty understated guy and not a huge hockey fan in any event, but I remember even he got into the mood.

It might be an age thing, but I remember remarking to Pleasure Motors last year that not a single series in The Run really had the thrill that Stars '97 and Avs '98 did for me. Collectively, I guess coming within one win of the Cup is more exciting than getting eliminated in five in the second round, but there just didn't seem to be the sense of outright impossibility that those wins had.

One year I was convinced the Oilers were going to get swept in the first round, a few years later I was taking Scott Fraser in a playoff pool. That win brought back expectations, I guess.

(And that clip is at least twenty-seven percent of the reason that Todd Marchant is one of my favourite Oilers of all-time.)

mike from Ottawa said...

At Schanks Sports Bar on Macleod Trail in Calgary, watching with too many Flames-turned-briefly-Oilers fans to count. For some reason, when both the Flames and Oilers were sucking slough water in the mid-to-late 90's, it seemed easier to shift allegiances to the one Alberta team still battling in the post-season (or at least it was for Flames fans in that bar, on that night).

I was watching with one other die-hard Oiler fan, and we both went nuts when Marchant scored. I was pretty drunk, but I remember the Cujo save and the Marchant break up the wing as clear as day.

sacamano said...

I was in Dewey's. And not the shitty new Dewey's in the Powerplant; the old awesome Dewey's that used to be in Hub Mall.

That jerk server Tony, who of course was so jerky that he was awesome, was taking his own enormous tips as usual, while serving us jagermeister and warm beer in plastic cups.

Ahhhh, Dewey's. Good times. Good times.

Anonymous said...

I was in a tiny, shitty house on 79ave. Rented and dwelled in by at least two people too many. But hey, we were 23-24 yrs. old. It was a typical night of hard drinking, with some unexpected extra hard victory drinking which ensued courtesy of Mr. Joseph and Mr. Marchant. Good times I wouldn't trade for anything.


Oilman said...

I remember Ron Low running out to Cujo and you could read his lips on the way there...."what a fuckin save".....that was great!

Anonymous said...


Love the Deweys/Tony shout out, one of my favorite all time bars and servers. Surely we passed each other through the doors of that fine establishment.

The reno they did before they shut it was the sign it was too beautiful to last, and it closed soon after to dismay all round.

Damn those noise complaining HUB dwellers!


pikey78oil said...

what a great clip! i was sitting in the lounge at Gateway Lanes, eating chicken wings watching the game with a few buddies......when Marchant scored, we all jumped up, i almost choked on the chicken wing, and when I hugged my buddy, i forgot i had chicken wing sauce all over my fingers, and I ended up wiping the sauce all over his shirt....I didn't tell him....was that wrong?