Tyler Ennis’s first home game as a member of his childhood team was an absolute thriller.
In a playoff-like atmosphere at Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers came away with a tooth-and-nail 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets despite being outshot 41 to 22, leapfrogging the Vancouver Canucks for second place in the Pacific Division. A real nail-biter.
Yet, when asked about coming home, having his parents in the stands and earning that crucial win, Ennis kept it simple.
“It was fun,” the Edmonton kid said during After Hours on Sunday. “It was a battle, it was kind of like a playoff game. (That’s what) it’s going to be like the rest of the way for us here, because it’s such a tight race.”
After getting traded from the Ottawa Senators last Monday, Ennis was immediately placed on a line with Connor McDavid and fellow newcomer Andreas Athanasiou. Though he’s kept the impact of playing for his home away from his game and mindset, the first pre-game ritual at home brought back some heartwarming childhood memories.
“It was special,” Ennis said of taking the ice before Sunday’s game. “Especially just skating around before the anthem and hearing the horn. It’s the same horn that’s been going off since I was a kid watching games.”
The 30-year-old Ennis is tasked with helping his home team reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017. With 100-point man Leon Draisaitl entering the Hart conversation, McDavid’s usual dominant play and head coach Dave Tippett’s guidance, it’s safe to say that hopes are high in Edmonton, and not just on the fans’ side.
“They’re hungry to be a playoff team,” Tippett said during After Hours. “You’ve got some young players that are really hungry to show what they can do, not just in the regular season, but in the playoffs.”
Much like his newly acquired forward, the first-year Oilers coach and former NHLer bears a deep appreciation for his place in the organization.
“I grew up in Western Canada, I grew up watching the Oilers play,” said Tippett, a Moosomin, Sask., native. “Friends and family up here have said it a number of times … my mom was so happy, because I never played or coached in Canada, so to have a chance to coach in Canada and get back to Western Canada has been a thrill for me.”
In this tight post-season race, the thrills seem to be just beginning.