By Kelli Gustafson – RogersPlace.com
You can feel it in the air tonight.
No, we aren’t talking about a Phil Collins song — although, Kailer Yamamoto might say he’s been waiting for this moment for all his life.
We are talking about the night Edmontonians have been waiting for since May.
Yes, hockey is back.
With the first regular season game taking place for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, the excitement filled the air throughout the building — maybe even the city.
Following a thrilling inaugural season at Rogers Place that gave the team and the fans a taste for playoff fever, the Oilers look ahead to the 2017-18 season with a thirst to return.
But before the boys in orange and blue faced the Calgary Flames for the first Battle of Alberta of the season, fans were treated to a special performance by the winner of this summer’s Britain’s Got Talent — Tokio Myers.
While the London-native played the piano on a raised platform near the Zamboni entrance to the ice, acrobats performed on suspended hula hoops towards centre ice, while dots of blue and orange danced throughout the bowl from the illuminated bracelets given to fans (synchronized to the sound of the music).
While the inspiring melody which transfixed the crowd came to a close, a new excitement surged through the audience when this season’s opening video was introduced. With vivid on-ice projection supporting the scoreboard, the visuals effects raised the anticipation and excitement for fans ahead of puck-drop.
“We’re always trying to be innovative and to elevate the game. I think we set the bar pretty high for year one, and certainly look to exceed it in year two,” said Rich Meyers, Director, Event Production.
In a tasteful dedication for the victims of both the tragedies in Las Vegas and those injured following the attack taking place last Saturday in Edmonton, Constable Mike Chernyk was honoured before the singing of the national anthem.
“Through the violence, there were also numerous acts of humanity and heroism,” said Oilers in-house announcer Scott Bourgeois.
Constable Chernyk has been hailed a hero for his response to Saturday’s attacks, and triggered an emotional applause that stirred the crowd to their feet in a standing ovation.
Following the singing of O’Canada, the puck dropped and the boys were off.
Yes, hockey is back.