Oilers orange crush surging in Sharks' Silicon Valley

Oilers orange crush surging in Sharks' Silicon Valley

San Jose isn't exactly a hockey hotbed.  It's a place known more for being one of three cities in Silicon Valley, California's hub of innovation technology.

Yes, the San Jose Sharks do have diehard fans. But outside of the SAP Center, where the Sharks skate and where they hosted the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the team isn't exactly making headlines.

Headlines are being made, however, by the orange crush. Hundreds of Oilers fans are in California, and in Sunday's 1-0 Game 3 victory, Zack Kassian's game-winning goal and Cam Talbot's second series shutout had all of them cheering long after the game was done.

Oilers faithful are eager to do it all again on Tuesday night for Game 4 of the series, again in San Jose.

'It's been amazing'

One of those Oilers fans is Kyla Lane, who recently underwent knee surgery and realized she wouldn't be able to fly to San Jose. 

Despite being on crutches, the diehard Oilers fan and a friend jumped in their car Friday morning and drove straight to Vancouver.

They tuned in to a TV broadcast to see the Oilers tie up the series in Game 2, then hit the road again Saturday. They arrived in Redding, Calif. on Sunday, then drove the final 250-kilometre leg to San Jose.

"I had knee surgery over two weeks ago, so that's why I couldn't fly — just because of blood clots — and I didn't think I could have my knee bent for that long," said Lane.

"It's been really good. Even coming from San Francisco to San Jose, there were people in Oilers jerseys passing us and stuff and the first people we saw when we got to our hotel were people in Oilers jerseys. They're everywhere down here so it's nice to see."

With the 30-hour trek behind them, taking in Game 3 was an experience Lane says she'll never forget.

Hundreds of fans were cheering "Let's go Oilers" outside the SAP Center, and the noise continued inside.

"It's been amazing," said Lane, who added their Oilers gear is being noticed by people almost everywhere they go.  

"I don't think this would mean nearly as much if we hadn't been waiting the 10 years for it, and I think that's why a lot of people made the trip down here."

'This is actually happening'

Another Oilers fan in San Jose is Jay Downton. He's one of the owners of the popular website Oilersnation.com.

Downton flew to California, shelling out more than $600 for a return flight, and finding a cheap hotel within blocks of the arena.

It was a 3:30 a.m. start for Downton on Sunday, but he managed to get to the SAP Center well before game time. He couldn't believe it when he saw a sea of orange crush waiting for him.

"It was actually just kind of surreal, looking around, to be surrounded by people in Sharks jerseys, and being in this strong little group of people in orange, and just chanting and having all this energy, " said Downton.

"It was kind of like a goosebumps moment where you're just like, 'Oh my God,' like this is intense … we're in the playoffs, like this is actually happening."

Oilers fans in San Jose are looking for that feeling to repeat itself Tuesday.

Many of the same fans who took in Game 3 on Sunday, and maybe some new arrivals, will be at the SAP Center, hoping for another road win and a stranglehold on the series.

Game 4 of the series is being played on the two-year anniversary of Edmonton winning the draft lottery that gave the club the right to draft Connor McDavid, now the Oilers' captain.

"You know, during the decade of darkness, you have your head hung low and you're wondering when is this going to end. " said Downton. 

"But then you know, two years to the day when we won the lottery to get Connor McDavid and things changed forever, and it makes all those moves and all those mistakes, and poor games worth it … 

"It's all worth it. I would do it all over again if it means what we have right now."

Game 5 of the series goes Thursday at Rogers Place in Edmonton.