Happy Father's Day, Oilers fans!
Thank you to everyone who entered the Oilers Memories With Dad contest and a big shout-out to all the hockey-loving papas out there!
A week before my third birthday, I was surprised with a gift of hockey tickets to my very first NHL game. To most three-year-old girls, a Barbie doll would have been sufficient. I, however, had my little blue jersey hanging in the closet ready to wear and was raring to go. I was fortunate enough to go to that first Oilers game with my Dad. Best of all, it was October 19, 1988, which happened to be Wayne Gretzky's first game back to Edmonton as a Los Angeles King. We were sitting in the away end – first row of the 200’s. The seats were blue back then. I stood up for most of the entire game, cheering and enamored by my surroundings. I saved my purple admission ticket from that first game in an old blue Reebok keepsake shoebox on the top shelf of bedroom closet.
To this day, our family's love for our Edmonton Oilers goes way beyond our hats, shirts and key chains, pictures with Dad's favourite player Glenn Anderson or Oilers paraphernalia. My Dad didn't miss a playoff game in the 80's – we have VCR tapes to prove it. Dad's love for the Oilers trickled down into a father-daughter connection. My first game was with my Dad to celebrate Gretzky's return, and my sister's favorite game with my Dad was Anderson's jersey retirement. It's the funny way our Dad shakes his head when us girls ask for another $8 Caesar. He just smiles, coughs up the cash and gets himself another beer too. Sometimes, he surprises us and upgrades our seats or sends us to a game with tickets from a silent auction when he can't make it. It's the unique way in which he shows us how he loves spending time with us and sharing his love of the Oilers.
It's also a family thing – one that involves watching the game together in our living room, yelling at the TV, taking the jammed-packed LRT together chanting “Go Oilers Go”, spilling mustard from the hotdog all over our shirts in the middle of the first period and getting a look of disgust from the rest of the family, keeping the TV on during family dinner despite my mother's dismay, phone calls asking if we saw Eberle's sick dangle last night and, best of all, family Christmas cards featuring each of us in our favourite Oilers jersey.
I will never forget that first Oilers game with my Dad, or any of the others I have been to. As I get older I cherish those memories and look forward to many more LRT rides, stops at the Oilers Store and game nights. As a three-year-old girl, going to the game was not just going to the game; it was the start of going to the game with my Dad! This is something that I am truly thankful for. To me, that's what going to the game is all about – who you are going with – MY DAD.
This was about 20 years ago, I was about 10, and my dad was taking me to my first Oilers game ever. Usually my dad would have been taking one of my two younger brothers to such an event, but this time he decided to take me. Oilers were playing Boston and our seats were in the third row directly behind the opposing team’s net. I honestly don't remember a much of the game itself, or even who won and who lost because none of that mattered. What mattered was that my dad took ME to a hockey game and not one of the boys. Being in the third row I was hoping that a puck would get flipped over the boards and that I would have a little souvenir from this game with my dad, but sadly the game ended and no puck. My dad could tell I was a bit disappointed and so before we left he bought a puck from the souvenir booth for me, and to make it look like an authentic game-used puck he sat there with his keys and added some scrapes, nicks and cuts to the puck. We then went home and my dad backed up my story to my brothers and my mom that we had actually caught the puck that came over the boards that night. To this day that puck still sits in my father's bedroom and I always smile and think about that game every time I see it.
My favorite Oiler memory with my amazing father was back during the 80's during a Stanley Cup playoff game. We were watching the game at home (us kids got to stay up late on Oiler game nights) and a terrible lightning storm had moved into the Barrhead area and halfway through the game the power went off! My dad (Cal Visser) is a welder, so he went and grabbed his welding truck, turned on the generator, ran an extension cord from the truck to the TV inside the house. And he did all this outside through torrential rain and hail because we were all huge Oiler fans! He now has held season tickets with a friend for the last eight years so he can take his grandkids to the games to create more Oiler memories with him. He is the most compassionate, empathetic man I know, always looking out for others and sharing all that life has blessed him with. And he has kept his optimistic outlook on life through two bouts of eye cancer (he now has one glass eye due to this awful illness). I love him to death!