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Edmonton fans in Vancouver find haven at Oilers bar The Black Frog

Eighty-plus Oilers diehards regularly fill the Gastown joint

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When the Edmonton Oilers scored the game’s first goal on Tuesday evening, Karl Mikusek’s smart watch said the resulting cheering inside the Black Frog exceeded 95 decibels.

That’s about as loud as a motorcycle engine running.

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“It says I should leave after 10 minutes because that level of noise will be dangerous,” Mikusek said.

He didn’t leave, nor did any other of the 80 or so Edmonton fans who’d gathered at the Gastown eatery to watch Game 4 of the Vancouver Canucks and Oilers in their Stanley Cup playoff series.

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Mikusek, in town on business, and his buddy Tyler Herbert, a commercial airline pilot in town for a couple of days layover, had only one wish — that they’d packed Oilers jerseys for their trip.

“I had no idea (the Black Frog) was here, I heard about it on an Oilers podcast,” Herbert said.

Black Frog Oilers
Oilers fans Karl Mikusek (left) and Tyler Herbert wish they’d thought to pack their Oilers jerseys for their business trips to Vancouver, at Gastown’s Black Frog Eatery. PHOTO BY GORD MCINTYRE Photo by GORD MCINTYRE /PNG

The Black Frog is at the dead end of Cambie Street in Gastown, the shelves behind the bar show off Oilers gear and photos, scarves boosting sundry soccer teams, several dolls, a small Elvis bust, bobbleheads of Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid still in their boxes, a nod to the Edmonton Elks football team, and a big stuffed Nemo from the Disney movie.

Nemo is Nemo Thalhammer, an Austrian who moved to Edmonton when he immigrated in 1991. When Thalhammer moved to Vancouver in 2005 he decided to make a joke he’d once made, a whimsy, come true. “The idea (of opening an Oilers-themed restaurant) didn’t remain a joke for very long,” he says on his website — and the Black Frog has been the place for orange and blue fans to dine, drink and enjoy Oilers games ever since.

You need to get there early.

Barry Bryde of Langley, whose grandparents lived in Edmonton and who has been an Oilers fan since 1983, once took the train in to watch his team at Black Frog and arrived an hour and a half before puck drop.

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It was packed, he couldn’t get in.

He’s been to every NHL city except Columbus and has seen the Oilers play in Sweden.

Black Frog Oilers
Dylan Johnson trolling his buddy, Oilers fan Barry Bryde, at Gastown’s Black Frog Eatery. PHOTO BY GORD MCINTYRE Photo by GORD MCINTYRE /PNG

And he watched Tuesday’s game with Dylan Johnson, who was wearing an Anaheim Ducks jersey along with a custom hat that takes a big dig at the Oilers.

“Champions of Alberta,” it reads above the peak. It’s in reference to a 2017 Stanley Cup series in which Edmonton had a 2-0 series lead, only to lose to Anaheim when the Ducks scored in Game 7 with 15 seconds left in the third period.

On the left side of Johnson’s hat he had stitched the name of the game-winning goal scorers in each of Anaheim’s final three games of that series, along with the time of the winning goal.

“The Ducks are my No. 1, the Canucks No. 2, and Oilers No. 3,” Johnson said.

Bryde was quick to bristle good-naturedly.

“You can’t say you have the Oilers No. 3, you’re trolling them pretty hard with that hat!”

Black Frog Oilers
Sudhir Padmanabhan (left) brought his friends along — Jay Pattel, Jared Cummings and Matt Straw — to watch Game 4 of the Oilers-Canucks playoffs series at Gastown’s Black Frog Eatery. PHOTO BY GORD MCINTYRE Photo by GORD MCINTYRE /PNG

There were a half-dozen fans in Canucks jerseys at the Black Frog, which seats 85 and, according to the Steve Delaney, the doorman wearing a Leon Draisaitl jersey, there has never been any rowdy behaviour in his years working there.

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“It’s a restaurant, I’ve not seen any trouble in here other than someone getting upset with the refs,” he said. “Never with others here.”

You’d think, if you pay attention to certain segments of social media, that putting together fans of the Canucks and Oilers would be like mixing vinegar with, well, oil.

But the Canucks fans who were vastly outnumbered at the Black Frog took the light ribbing they got with good nature.

Jay Pattel was there with two other buddies who are Canucks fans to accompany their friend and diehard Oilers fan Sudhir Padmanabhan.

“What are we doing in an Oilers bar?” Jay Pattel said. “What we’re doing here is making sure Oilers fans know we’re here for the Canucks.

“I hope the Canucks win tonight so we have only one more game and get rid of McJesus and his fanatics.”

McJesus is Edmonton super star Connor McDavid.

Outside, the Gastown steam clock could be heard every 15 minutes that the game was in commercial break.

Herbert, the pilot, loved the clock’s whistle. He spends several days a month in Vancouver, and can’t believe he’d never heard of the Black Frog before.

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“When I walked in, the first thing I saw was all the Oiler stickers, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m in the right place.’”

For the away-from-home blue and orange, it was the right place Tuesday.

[email protected]/gordmcintyre

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