Burnin' love!

DAN PALMER -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET


 Despite it being Edmonton Oilers territory, local hockey fans were still ecstatic last night after Alberta's only team left in the playoffs edged closer to the Stanley Cup.

 "It's great the Flames won at home. The Calgary fans deserve it. They're diehard fans like the Oilers fans," said Chris Sauve, 20, who watched the game from McNally's Highrun Club near 50 Street and 98 Avenue.

 Sauve said he usually backs the Oilers, but cheered for the Flames because they're Canada's team in the playoffs.

 "I cheer for the Oilers, then Calgary, then Vancouver. I cheer for Canadian hockey," said Sauve of Edmonton.

 The Flames took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals last night in Calgary. The Flames won 3-0. The Flames now lead the best-of-seven game series two to one.

 "Being up two games is very important. You only have two more games to go, while the other team has three," said Evan Foisy, 21, who was also at the Highrun.

 Foisy of Sherwood Park cheers for the Flames because his friend cheers for the Oilers and rubs it in. Foisy also left that friend a voice mail using his cellphone after last night's Calgary win. "I just yelled, 'Go Flames Go!' Flames are No.1," added Foisy, referring to his message.

 In Calgary at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Susan Schuchard cheered her son Jarome Iginla and his Flames teammates. "Go Flames Go!" said Schuchard, who had predicted a close game.

 Before last night's match, Schuchard admitted she was starting to gain a bit of a celebrity status as Iginla's mother, referring to an impromptu autograph session on Friday in Calgary.

 Schuchard said she was at a hockey ticket giveaway in Cowtown when someone recognized her. They asked for autograph. Others followed and before Schuchard knew it, she was signing autographs for more than an hour for about 60 people. "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh,' " Schuchard said.

 Schuchard also took lessons from Iginla about how to handle the situation.

 "Jarome taught me to never turn an autograph down. Jarome taught me to be gracious."

 Other relatives of local Flames players watched the game from the comfort of their own Edmonton-area homes, but had Calgary garb close by.

 Claire Ference, a cousin of Flames' player Andrew Ference, wore her Flames jersey while watching the game with relatives on her Strathcona County acreage, 16 km east of Edmonton.

 "When you have a relative playing, you get so into it. I've never watched hockey this intensely before," said Claire, adding she and Andrew were practically brother and sister while growing up in the Sherwood Park area.

 Claire said she still cheers for the Oilers, unless they're playing the Flames.

 "I will follow the bloodlines," said Claire.

 Claire said the family car with Flames flags was in Calgary last night because her parents were there to watch their nephew Andrew play at the Saddledome.

 In Wetaskiwin, 70 km south of Edmonton, Loretta Sonnenberg still watched the game, even though her son , Martin Sonnenberg, had yet to play in a playoff game before last night's Game 3.

 "It's a little disappointing, but that's a mother's opinion," said Loretta, adding her son played a few games with the Flames at the end of the regular season.

 "We've always been Oilers fans, but we've had to switch sides."

 Meanwhile, the burgeoning local interest in the Flames also threatens to cost a cop her hair.

 Fort Saskatchewan-born Flames player Mike Commodore is on the same fundraising team as a local Mountie, as they prepare to have their heads shaved to raise money to battle cancer. "I offered my head up for $10,000," said Fort Saskatchewan Const. Helen Meinzinger.

 Meinzinger has teamed up with Commodore for the fundraiser at the Fort Saskatchewan high school, which will raise cash for the Alberta Cancer Board and the Stollery Children's Hospital.

 "It's awesome. I'm a big hockey fan. It's pretty cool to be associated alongside of him for this," said Meinzinger, pointing out Mike's mom, Eleanore Commodore, is the principal of the high school in Fort Saskatchewan, 40 km east of Edmonton.

 Nancy Luyckfassel, a teacher at the school, said it was Eleanore who contacted Mike to help with the fundraiser.

 Unlike the Mountie, the hockey player doesn't have a bounty on his head before it will get shaved after the playoffs.

 "He was just willing to do it," said Luyckfassel.

 Meinzinger, a resource officer at the high school, said she will cut her lovely locks after a cool $10,000 goes into the fundraising pot.

 Luyckfassel said they're getting close, with almost $9,000 being raised before Wednesday's deadline.

 "I could very well be the one to put us over the top," said Meinzinger.

 Luyckfassel said roughly 30 people, including staff, students and parents of the high school, will have their heads shaved on Wednesday. Commodore is expected to have his hair cut after the playoffs.

 Luyckfassel said the high school had the idea for the fundraiser in May after a student and a wife of one of the teachers were diagnosed with cancer.

 A parent of one of the students at the school also recently died from the disease.


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