The Edmonton Oilers taking on the Sharks isn't particularly an unusual event in the NHL schedule. Except, in this case, the Sharks are the home team of Cologne, Germany, a franchise in the Deutsche Eishockey League. Even more unusual was that one of the Oilers' star players, Leon Dreisadl was in the lineup against the Sharks, coached by his father Peter.
"In my hometown, people obviously root for me and I think they're all extremely excited," remarked the Oilers star.
The combination father-and-son reunion and confrontation took on a party atmosphere at Lanxess Arena which saw the Oilers beat the Sharks 4-3 in overtime. While Ryan Strome turned out to be the hero for the Oilers when he chipped in the winning shot, much of the attention was focused on the younger Dreiseidl, the hometown main attraction, who set up the Oilers first goal in the game. The overtime victory elevated Edmonton's preseason record to 7-1.
While the Oilers flew to Cologne on Sunday to get used to the time shift while prepping for the NHL Global Series match, the team probably didn't anticipate the attention they received, largely due to Leon Dreisaitl's local following. The city's been keeping tabs on the youngster ever since he left Germany for Canada while in his teens, playing in the junior leagues for the Prince Albert Raiders and the Kelowna Rockets. He briefly returned to Germany to play on the national squad during the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2013 and 2014 before being signed by the NHL Oilers. Meanwhile, the elder Dreiseidl played in the DEL for 17 years as well as representing Germany in the 1988, 1992, and 1998 Winter Olympics.
Before the game, which promoters in Cologne billed as a game of a lifetime, Coach Dreisatl couldn't resist the circumstances involving icing a team against an NHL franchise that includes his son. "It'll probably be a little bit weird," he commented.
Also weird is that the Oilers will be the only team in the NHL to finish its preseason rounds and start the regular season in Europe. Their first regular season game will be against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in Gothenburg, Sweden. The match will count as a home game for the Devils.