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Disappointment and hope: Edmonton’s history-making dreams crushed in Oilers’ Game 7 loss

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The giant screens that had projected the Stanley Cup final at the watch party next to Rogers Place snapped to black Monday night, extinguished along with the hopes of thousands of Oilers faithful.

Cries of dismay erupted from the massive crowd gathered in the pavilion next to the arena to watch the Edmonton Oilers take on the Florida Panthers in Game 7 of the finals as the Panthers clinched the win in their home arena in Sunrise, Fla., 2-1.

Some in the crowd threw their beers in anger. But as Green Day’s Time of Your Life played from the speakers and the crowd thinned, a more sombre mood emerged. Some fans sat on the ground disconsolately, others hugged each other and wiped away tears.

Over in the Moss Pit — the other outdoor watch party in the arena district — heartbreak all around.

“It’s just a missed opportunity,” said Jacob Golka, who was mourning the loss with his friends.

“There’s appreciation for the greatest run that I’ve ever seen as an Oilers fan. But it hurts. It hurts.”

 

Edmonton Oilers fans watch on in the Ice District during the final minutes of Game 7 between the Edmonton Oilers and the Florida Panthers on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Timon Johnson/CBC)

 

The loss crushed lofty, history-making aspirations: It’s been 34 years since the Oilers have won a Stanley Cup, and 31 years since a Canadian NHL team has won the title.

And after starting the series in a three-game deficit, had the Oilers pulled off a comeback it would have been the first time a team came back from 3-0 since the Toronto Maple Leafs did it in 1942.

Earlier Monday, downtown Edmonton was abuzz, as throngs of people in jerseys flooded the streets, feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety in anticipation of the game.

“I’m just nervous. I hope I don’t die, you know what I mean? I’m gonna get a heart attack right now just thinking about it,” longtime fan Victor Fodor said.

Fodor went to a couple of the playoff games at the Coliseum, the Oilers’ old arena, the last time the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1990, beating the Boston Bruins.

He said back then, the team had some pretty good players – the likes of Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr.

But Fodor was confident in today’s roster too. Belief in the team’s ability to finally hoist the cup again 34 years later was running through multiple generations of Oilers fans ahead of the game.

“If there’s any team that can do it, it’s these guys,” said Paul Sulja, who was feeling confident they’d take the cup.

Sulja was still very young the last time the Oilers made the Stanley Cup final series in 2006, when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7.

He said he grew into being a diehard fan during the decade of darkness that followed, when the Oilers didn’t make the playoffs again until 2016.

After years of standing by the team at their worst, Sulja was ready to go all out to celebrate them at their best.

Sulja, who doesn’t live in Alberta anymore, flew back to Edmonton for two of the playoff games.

He thought about heading to Florida for Game 7 but decided Edmonton was where he needed to be on Monday.

People began lining up to get inside the Moss Pit on Monday morning.

By early afternoon, the line had grown so long it snaked around multiple city blocks. As game time grew closer, the lineup became chaotic as people pushed and shoved.

Both Edmonton police officers and RCMP were out in full force ahead of and during the game, along with a significant private security presence in hopes of keeping revelry in check — no doubt, with the memory of riots on Whyte Avenue during the 2006 playoffs top-of-mind.

CBC News observed one arrest near the arena downtown following the game, but as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up, most of the crowds drifted away peacefully.

A man in an Oilers jersey crouches down amidst a crowd.
An Edmonton Oilers fan kneels in the Ice District following the team’s 2-1 loss against the Florida Panthers in Game 7 on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Timon Johnson/CBC)

While the Monday lead-up to the game felt like a holiday for Oilers fans, Tuesday may feel like a hangover – both literally and emotionally.

In the fan zone next to Rogers Place, Ty Gour and his friends patted each other’s shoulders and hugged – commiserating about the loss.

“Could’ve done better,” Gour said.

Despite the heartbreaking loss in the final, ultimately the Oilers managed to come just a couple of goals away from winning the Cup, after being in the basement of the league in November.

 

Oilers fans reflect on a storybook Cup run

5 hours ago

Duration 2:09

The Edmonton Oilers may have lost the Stanley Cup to the champion Florida Panthers, but fans are looking back joyously on a run that seemed unbelievable. Travis McEwan spoke with them about the highlights that brought a different feeling to the city for months.

Not long ago, many fans were just hoping for the team not to get swept, and they ended up getting a lot more than that.

As a member of a fandom that has weathered decades of disappointment, Gour is already looking forward to next season.

“Dang good team, a young team — a young team that’s going to come back even better next year, even hungrier,” Gour said.

“But right now, they just didn’t have enough to bring it home.”

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Juan Brunetta has a goal and an assist to lead Liga MX All-Stars over MLS All-Stars 4-1

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Juan Brunetta and Maximiliano Meza scored a minute apart in the second half, and Mexico’s Liga MX All-Stars beat the Major League Soccer All-Stars 4-1 in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Brunetta (Tigres) scored in transition in the 68th minute to make it 3-1 and set up Meza (Monterrey) soon after in front of a record crowd of 20,931 at Lower.com Field.

It was the first MLS All-Star Game victory for Liga MX in three tries. The MLS All-Stars won in 2022 and won on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw a year earlier.

“It was an incredible game,” Liga MX coach Andre Jardine said. “There were a lot of high-level players. It was a tight game. Both teams definitely came out to play. In the second half they came out with a lot of great names as well. I was a bit surprised. It was a bit difficult, especially in the first 15 minutes, but we had to adjust and ultimately it was a great game.”

There were plenty of big names on the field, but the absence of the brightest and biggest one took some luster out of the event. The league announced Monday that Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi was unable to play because of ligament damage in his right ankle.

The 2022 World Cup champion was injured while playing for Argentina in its victory over Colombia in the Copa America final on July 14.

Fans cheered when Columbus forwards combined to tie the match 1-all in the 17th minute, about a minute after Germán Berterame (Monterrey) scored for Mexico on a header.

From the left flank, Diego Rossi found Crew teammate Cucho Hernandez racing unmarked down the middle of the box for the equalizer.

“Unbelievable for me to score in front of my home fans,” Hernandez said.

Oussama Idrissi (Pachuca) made it 2-1 in the 41st with a strike from the top of the penalty area.

MLS had two chances to tie it in the 63rd when Riqui Puig (Los Angeles Galaxy) hit the crossbar and on the follow, Luca Orellano (Cincinnati) was denied on a goal-line clearance by Unai Bilbao (Tijuana).

Minutes later, Liga MX put the game out of reach.

MLS recognized the revival of the Columbus market by awarding it the All-Star Game. The Crew, a 1996 charter member, were threatened in the fall of 2017 with relocation to Austin, Texas, by then-owner Anthony Precourt.

A grassroots movement called Save the Crew drew international attention and helped persuade Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to buy the team and keep it in Columbus.

The Crew won the MLS Cup in 2020 and 2023, reached the final of the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup and opened Lower.com Field in 2021, where there have been 28 straight sellouts for MLS matches.

“It shows everyone the courage of the owner,” Crew and MLS All-Stars coach Wilfried Nancy said. “Listen, this is a representation of what Columbus is and the passion for the soccer.”

The All-Star squad had five Crew players. Hernandez and Rossi were joined by midfielder Darlington Nagbe and defenders Rudy Camacho and Steven Moreira.

UP NEXT

MLS and Liga MX continue the rivalry with the start of the Leagues Cup on Friday All 47 teams will compete in a World Cup-style format, with the championship match on Aug. 25. There will be 77 matches in the United States and Canada. Inter Miami is the defending Leagues Cup champion.

___

AP soccer:

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Chelsea salvages 2-2 tie with Wrexham in friendly at Levi’s Stadium

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Lesley Ugochukwu scored in the 82nd minute to help Chelsea salvage a 2-2 tie with Wrexham in a friendly match Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Ugochukwu rolled a shot from the middle of the box through traffic into the right corner.

Wrexham took a 2-1 lead when Jack Marriot scored on a counterattack in the 72nd minute.

Luke Bolton also scored for Wrexham, the Welsh team co-owned by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds that was promoted this year to the third tier of English soccer.

Christopher Nkunku scored first for Chelsea in the perennial Premier League power’s first pre-season match and its first under manager, Enzo Maresca, the former Leicester City manager.

Nkunku fired a shot from the middle of the box into the left corner of the net past goalie Arthur Okonkwo in the 35th minute off an assist from Marc Guiu after a corner kick.

Wrexham tied it in the 58th minute when Bolton scored from the right wing off an assist from Sebastian Revan, who connected with Bolton on a crossing pass.

Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked a breakaway shot from James McLean in the 29th minute.

Chelsea beat Wrexham 5-0 in a friendly last season.

UP NEXT

Wrexham: Visits the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Chelsea: Plays the Celtic on Saturday at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

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Preseason Opener: Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea Takes on Wrexham

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Welcome to the first match of the summer, the first preseason game, and the first chance to see Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea in action. While the main focus today is on fitness, this game will undoubtedly spark analysis and excitement among fans.

Football, sort of, is back! Let’s see how the teams line up for this highly anticipated friendly.

Chelsea Starting XI:

  • Sánchez
  • James (c)
  • Tosin
  • Badiashile
  • Colwill
  • Lavia
  • Chukwuemeka
  • Nkunku
  • Madueke
  • Guiu
  • George

Substitutes:

  • Beach
  • Bergström
  • W. Fofana
  • Veiga
  • Acheampong
  • Gusto
  • Chilwell
  • Santos
  • Ugochukwu
  • Sterling
  • Ângelo
  • Broja

Wrexham Starting XI:

  • Okonkwo
  • Cleworth
  • Brunt
  • O’Connor
  • Bolton
  • Jones
  • Dobson
  • Lee
  • Revan
  • Palmer
  • McClean (c)

Substitutes:

  • Howard
  • Burton
  • Boyle
  • Barnett
  • James
  • Forde
  • Evans
  • Ashfield
  • Cannon
  • Davies
  • Bickerstaff
  • Waters
  • Dalby
  • Marriott

Match Details:

  • Date / Time: Wednesday, July 24, 7pm PDT; 3am BST (next day); 7:30am IST (next day)
  • Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, USA
  • On TV: ESPN (USA); none (UK); elsewhere
  • Streaming: ESPN+ (USA); Chelsea TV (int’l pay-per-view)

Both teams will be eager to test their tactics and players ahead of the upcoming season. Chelsea fans are particularly excited to see how new manager Enzo Maresca will shape the team, while Wrexham supporters are keen to see their team perform against top-tier opposition.

Let’s see how the starting formation and tactics unfold as we get a first glimpse of what’s to come this season. Stay tuned for an exciting game!ea

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