Split Families Ready for Battle of Alberta Playoff Series

Friends and family are preparing to be divided as the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers reignited their NHL playoff hockey rivalry this week for the first time in 31 years.

In some cases, battle lines are physically marked. For neighbors Wes Real and Travis Burndred, it’s the street that separates their two homes in Lethbridge, Alta.

“There will be some flags hanging in my window soon,” said Burndred, a Flames fan.

“There’s Flames decorated,” Real said of his neighbor’s house, while donning a Wayne Gretzky shirt. “I’m a little more conservative.”

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The two have been living together for four years and the rivalry doesn’t stop, even when the duo hits the bonds together.

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Whether watching hockey or playing golf, Wes Real and Travis Burndred are representing their teams.

Courtesy: Travis Burndred

“We have golf bags,” Real said. “His is a Flames bag and I have an Oilers bag. We keep our teams, that’s for sure.”

And the competition heats up whenever the Battle of Alberta begins.

“I just want to see Edmonton win (the battle) again,” Real said.

“I want Calgary to show the reason they took first place in the division and live up to the hype,” Burndred said.

For others, the division is within their own home.

“We’re not going to be too happy with each other for the next few weeks,” Jack Fehr said.

The Fehrs are split in half. The Lethbridge family of five has three members under their roof cheering for the Flames and the other two supporting the Oilers.

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The battle has been going on for years.

When Karalee and Nathan Fehr started dating, Nathan lost a bet and had to wear an Oilers shirt to dinner. At their wedding, the DJ provided live updates from the Flames and Oilers game that was happening at the same time.

Now the rivalry is in the next generation, with his sons Jailen, Jack and Carter choosing sides.

The Fehr family will be cheering for opposing sides in the Battle of Alberta.

Courtesy: Karalee Fehr

“(Nathan) said very early on that I couldn’t influence our boys – if we had boys – which team they would root for,” Karalee said. “So I took every opportunity to make my daughter understand the true path and she became an Oilers fan in her own right.”

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They are preparing for what could be a 13-day Battle of Alberta. Just like Candice Pohl and Shane Duff, who don’t hide their loyalties.

The Lethbridges currently have a flag that says “House Divided” with the Flames and Oilers logos hanging from the front window and another one in the basement.

“On our first date, we just went out and started reminiscing and then he came back that night,” Pohl said.

“It happened to be a Battle of Alberta game and he was wearing his (Oilers) shirt. I wore mine (Flames shirt) and we’ve been rivals ever since. But we’ve also been in a committed relationship ever since.”

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“It was a 1-0 Oilers win,” Duff said.

Opposing parties said the key is to accept each other’s sporting affiliation flaws and coordinate the decor.

“Game 1, I choose the lights, so it will be red and yellow,” said Pohl. “Game 2 will be blue and orange and we’ll just switch.”

“We’ve come this far, so maybe we can survive the next few weeks,” Karalee said.

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One thing they all share is excitement over the Battle of Alberta’s return to the playoffs.

“It’s been a long time,” Duff said. “It will be different. (It) will not be like the 80s. It will be much faster.”

“There are some great talents on both teams,” said Pohl.

“We couldn’t be more excited as a couple and rivals too.”

“It’s really cool to have both teams from Alberta,” said Real. “It was what we expected.”

But there is no agreement on the outcome of the series.

“It’s going to last at least six games – in Calgary’s favor,” Burndred said.

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“I hope it’s at least seven – in Edmonton’s favor,” Real said.

“Flames sweep – four games,” Nathan said.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a sweep, but I’m totally confident in the Oilers,” Karalee said.

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