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Oilers fans in B.C. brace for Canucks playoff rivalry

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The Vancouver Canucks secured a second-round playoff date last week with the Edmonton Oilers.

In the days since, both fan bases have been sizing up their Canadian competition.

But not all Oilers fans live in Edmonton.

Jeannine McDonald added an inflatable orca -- the whale figures makes up much of the Canucks' logo -- 'caught' in a fishing net to the roof of her car, surrounded by Oilers flags, in an effort to antagonize Vancouver fans living in Prince George, B.C.

"I was like, 'You know what? If I’m going to be chirped, I’m going to earn it,'" she told CTV News Edmonton on Tuesday.

McDonald grew up attending Oilers games at the Coliseum with her father, an Edmontonian.

Her strong blue-and-orange fandom is causing friction with friends who support the British Columbia-based Canucks.

"(My friend said) 'I’m confirming we’re Friends Off, but I still need your help with something.' I was like ‘Oh yeah, totally’ ... It was to pick out a wedding dress! I was like 'OK, you can reach out to me for that.' Hockey does not go that far," McDonald said with a laugh.

She said her car hasn't yet borne the brunt of any damage from a grumpy Canucks fan, "though some people have mentioned that might be coming."

"It's all good-natured fun," she said. "Hockey rivalries are like that."

When the puck drops on Game 1 of the second-round National Hockey League series between the Canucks and the Oilers on Wednesday, it'll mark the first time in 32 years the western Canadian rivals have played each other in the playoffs.

In Penticton, B.C., the owner of a Boston Pizza franchise who hails from Edmonton had to find the right balance between business and fandom, changing the sign in front of the restaurant from 'Let's Go Oilers' to read 'Let's Go Canucks,' eventually settling on the neutral 'Who will bring the Cup home?'

Closer to the action in downtown Vancouver, locale of the Canucks' home arena, Tamara Bingley lives a 45-minute commute away in Coquitlam and helps run a Facebook group for Oilers fans in B.C.

She became an Oilers fan as a child in an act of defiance against her dad, a big Canucks fan, at the dinner table on a night when Edmonton was playing Vancouver.

"I didn’t get my dessert, so I decided to cheer for the Oilers just to annoy my dad, and he actually got pretty mad about it, and then it literally just stuck," said Bingley, whose first favourite Oilers player was Doug Weight.

"I always kind of joke, 'I'm glad they weren't playing the Flames that day.'"

She says the 150-strong group chats online, "giving each other updates" and such, during games and tries to get together to watch at least one Oilers games in the playoffs.

Bingley said she's uncertain what to expect when she dares to leave her home sporting blue-and-orange gear.

"I'm really curious about how it's going to go, especially like the last week, I'll be walking my dog and I'll be wearing an Oilers hat and my dog has an Oilers bandana, so people will see and and I see them staring at me," said Bingley, adding she has tickets for three of the Oilers-Canucks games in Vancouver.

"Once in a while, I see someone shake their head. I get the odd person who says, 'Nice hat, but Go Canucks,' but we'll see. It's more like when we get going to the games coming up here on the SkyTrain (public transit), that's when it's going to be a little sketchy ... I'm meeting one of my buddies there, and I was saying (to them) I'm going to bring a bag and not put on my jersey until I get there.'"

Two Oilers players were born in the Vancouver area. Both Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins grew up cheering for the Canucks.

Once they were drafted into the NHL, however, their allegiances changed.

"As a Canadian kid, you naturally root for the team that you grew up near," Nugent-Hopkins, who was drafted first overall by the Oilers in 2011, told media following practice on Tuesday in Edmonton.

"Obviously that changed pretty quick about 13 years ago." 

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