Battle from both sides

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:03 PM ET

James Vandermeer has seen the battle from both sides.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman knows what it’s like to be on either end of the Battle of Alberta.

“I guess it’s neat,” he said. “I’ve bounced around the league a little bit so I’ve gotten to know some different places. But I think once you put that jersey on and you go out there and play, you’re just playing hockey.”

On Friday, Vandermeer suited up for the first time with the Oilers against his former team, having spent two years in Calgary.

Growing up in Red Deer, he was very familiar to the rivalry between the Oilers and the Flames.

“I was an Oilers fan all the way through,” he said. “I got a little bit of heat for it when I was in Calgary a couple of years ago.

“But Highway 54 in Red Deer was kind of the cutoff. Anyone on the south side of the highway cheered for the Flames and anyone on the north side of it cheered for the Oilers. I grew up on the north side of the highway. My whole family we were Oilers fans growing up, so it was pretty cool to put the jersey on.”

Undrafted coming out of junior with the Red Deer Rebels, Vandermeer played with four different organizations prior to arriving in Edmonton.

He was looking forward to squaring off for the first time this season against the Flames, who won all six regular-season meetings between the two teams last season.

“This is probably a good way to start it, getting the battle going again,” Vandermeer said. “If there are any big hits or fights, it might stir up the battle again. But it should be good. We know for the start of the regular season what they’ll do, what their systems are like. So it’ll be good to know your opponent right off the bat.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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