For the first time since 1991, Alberta's two NHL teams will square off in a Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers both advanced to the second round of the playoffs earlier this week, the Oilers ousting the Los Angeles Kings and the Flames coming out on top against the Dallas Stars.
Calgary's qualification came thanks to a dramatic overtime victory in Game 7, when Johnny Gaudreau sniped the winning shot past Stars' goaltender Jake Oettinger. While the Flames ultimately had the last laugh, Oettinger will be remembered for years by Flames fans for putting forward a historic performance throughout the series – the 23-year-old netminder registered a .954 save percentage and 2.53 goals-against average. He made a remarkable 64 saves in Game 7, from the Flames' 134 shot attempts.
Edmonton didn't face quite as much drama in their Game 7, but the Oilers still had plenty to do in order to slay the Kings in a tense series. As could be predicted, the goal-scoring talents of franchise star Connor McDavid, who registered 14 points in the series, helped propel the Oilers into the second round.
An NHL playoff run brings plenty of energy to a community. In light of the long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic, an exciting encounter between two regional rivals will help revive some of the community enthusiasm that has been lost over the last two years.
Given Cochrane's proximity to Calgary, it's logical to assume most Cochranites will be rooting for the Flames. But that doesn't mean there's not a sizeable contingent of Oilers fans who call the town home as well.
Regardless of who you are supporting, the upcoming series will certainly bring some electricity to the province's two biggest cities – not to mention nearby communities, like Cochrane.
Bring on the Battle of Alberta!