EDMONTON - Thousands of fans from across Oil Country came out in full force Saturday morning for the seventh annual Oilers Locker Room Sale presented by FORD Canada.
With the ice surface converted into a massive shopping experience, Oilers enthusiasts of all ages packed Rexall Place looking to score a deal on a wide selection of official merchandise, new and game-used equipment, exclusive collectibles and more.
Attending his third Oilers Locker Room Sale, diehard fan Corey Mydan arrived bright and early to secure his spot in line before anyone else.
"I stayed up all night," he laughed. "I had a game at Kenilworth Arena late last night. I waited until about 3:30am, washed up and headed over here at 4:30. I've been stocking up on bags, pant shells, gloves, sticks, helmets and training shoes. Those are the items you have to get here early for.
"Oilers fans are amazing. It's impressive how this all turned out."
Fellow fan, Locker Room Sale veteran and self-described stick connoisseur, Hoac Tang, had a game plan in mind well before the event kicked off.
"I always come in and turn to the left, because that's where the sticks always are," he said. "Sticks are always on the top of my list. Usually these are $300 and we're getting game-used and brand new ones for about $125.
"I've been here every year. This is like Christmas for me."
"It's great to see the fan support that we have here," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It's been cool to interact with them and sign some autographs today.
"When I was growing up, I never thought I'd see kids running to buy my equipment. But when I was really young, I always looked up to Paul Kariya and Joe Sakic and as I got older, I had a few (Sidney) Crosby sticks and always looked up to him. It was really cool to meet some of these little kids that were like me not too long ago."
Sporting a brand new Nugent-Hopkins crested sweater, Tang was thrilled to have gotten the chance to meet his favourite Oiler.
"It was actually a very, very long line, but totally worth the wait. He's a very down to earth guy."
Hailing from Strasbourg, Sask., Schultz attended similar events put on by the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders when he was younger, but never did get the chance to be a part of something like this put on by an NHL team.
"Getting the chance to buy a wrist band or a glove from a player was pretty cool," he said. "For the fans to come down here and get some of the equipment used by the players they watch, it's pretty neat.
"These are the people that pay a lot of their hard earned money to come watch the Oilers. The building is always full and it's a great atmosphere to play in. Putting on the Oilers colours is a special feeling, so to get to come down here and spend some time with the fans who support us all year long, it's pretty awesome."
In addition to hosting a BBQ open to all Locker Room Sale attendees, FORD was onside promoting the "Ford Drive 4 UR Community" test drive event. Not only did shoppers get an opportunity to test drive a variety of FORD vehicles, but they were also given an exclusive tour of the Oilers dressing room.
For each test drive, FORD made a $20 donation to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF).
Also hosted by FORD, two-time Stanley Cup winner and Oilers alumnus Marty McSorley signed autographs from 12 to 2pm outside on the patio.
"It's been a great day," he said. "I was coming into the city and was like, ‘This is playoff weather!" This is what I was used to in the late 80's when we were in the playoffs and advancing through the best times when I was an Oiler.
"It's nostalgic for me to come back -- a lot of great memories. I grew up here, not only has a player, but as a person as well. Everyone's happy and having a great time today."
As McSorley met and posed for photos with hundreds of orange and blue clad Oilers fans, a children's street hockey game, live DJ and members of the Oilers Octane helped give the event a true party atmosphere.
If you were unable to attend the Locker Room Sale at Rexall Place, the EOCF's Online Locker Room Charity Auction is live until June 18. This is your last chance to bid on Oilers memorabilia, game-used equipment, collectibles and much, much more.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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