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Great hockey, good price

Edmontonian hockey fans are naïve, and somewhat blind. Harsh, I know, but it’s a fact that needs voicing. Since the Oilers secured the Western Conference basement once again back in late October, fans have finally showed frustration with management and less interest in attending games. If only there was a good hockey team in town eh? Well … has anyone ever bothered to read a newspaper? We have two fantastic men’s hockey teams in Edmonton that have recently won championships and provide entertainment for fans every single game. One squad also competes in Rexall Place, the other … right here at NAIT. That’s right, the Edmonton Oil Kings and the NAIT Ooks are great brands of hockey at a far more affordable price than the Oilers

Since the Oil Kings were reborn in 2007, the franchise has steadily become one of the most consistent teams in the WHL. The EOK has made postseason six times, won the WHL championship twice and are currently in defence of the Memorial Cup. In the past five seasons, the squad has won at least 31 games each year. Remember, these are Major Junior hockey players, on the doorstep of playing in the NHL.

The speed and the skill is just one step down and the players all play with purpose and desire that rivals NHLers. There’s a certain charm to these kids. They all want to make it to the show and wear their passion front and centre for those in attendance.

Attendance at an Oil Kings game comes at a price that puts a much smaller dent in your wallet. Club seats are around $35 and some tickets go for less than $20. That’s insane, especially considering getting an Oilers ticket under $100 is lucky. A family of five can attend a game for the same cost of one Oilers ticket. Would you rather see the Oilers lose 6-0 and have to work extra hours or see the Oil Kings win a thriller and have money for dinner afterwards?

Even more cost effective than attending an Oil Kings game is going to a NAIT Ooks tilt. The public pays under $20, including tickets and parking, kids get in for less than $10 and students get in for free.

That’s right, NAIT students pay zilch to see their team play, a bargain for the quality of hockey on display. ACAC hockey athletes are all former junior players, some even from Major Junior and they also feature a high degree of speed and skill. The Ooks have co-dominated the league along with the SAIT Trojans and are fresh from reclaiming the ACAC title. In using the family-of-five example again, an evening watching the Ooks will cost half as much as an Oil Kings game. Let’s not forget, if the men aren’t in action, there’s the three-time defending women’s champions at NAIT as well.

So there are two fantastic male squads to watch for miniscule prices. Why doesn’t anyone watch them?

In Game 3 of the Oil Kings quarterfinal series against the Brandon Wheat Kings, the lower bowl hadn’t sold out at Rexall and no one sat up high. Such a disappointing showing for a good brand. There’s plenty of additional entertainment during the game as well, such as a T-shirt gun, trivia contests, local dancing talents between periods and more. It’s quite the night, yet many people don’t experience it.

Ooks games also have surprisingly low attendance numbers. Some of that comes from having no campus residence and attendance numbers are growing every year but there are so many hockey fans on campus who are capable of attending games here that don’t. Every NAIT student that’s sick of the Oilers’ losing ways has a solution that costs nothing outside of parking and the goodies purchased at the concession stand. And if you use the bus, you’re saving money on parking, too.

So, hockey fans of Edmonton and area, start looking past the blue and orange. I could tell you there is a whole new world out there with tons of great hockey teams to follow but you need not look outside the city for that kind of on-ice action. There are two teams that provide a great product every evening. Save yourself some time and cash, cheer for the Oil Kings and Ooks.

JOSH RYAN
Sports Editor
@JoshRyanSports

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