Few arrests as dejected Oilers fans fill Whyte Avenue
Edmonton police were ready for trouble on Whyte Avenue after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night – but hockey fans weren't in a mood to party after the Oilers lost.
As stunned and mostly subdued Oilers fans poured out of the bars after watching the Hurricanes beat Edmonton 3-1 in Raleigh, N.C., there was no repetition of the raucous partying that followed earlier games.
Three nights earlier, after the Oilers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 6, as many as 30,000 people crammed a kilometre-long strip of Whyte Avenue for a celebration that led to about 400 arrests.
But on Monday, many fans appeared to have followed police advice to stay home. Whyte Avenue was no busier after the game than on a typical Saturday evening, said officers who regularly work the beat.
"Unfortunately for the Oilers, it was a disappointing turnout to the game. That did translate into lower numbers on the avenue," said Jeff Wuite, a spokesman for the Edmonton Police Service.
"Before the outcome was determined, we had established there were fewer people in the bars and on the avenue during the game. But certainly I think the outcome of the game played a major role tonight."
'We're watching next year, baby'
Many fans tried to show support for their team despite the loss, chanting "We love the Oilers" and driving down the avenue honking car horns.
"There is nothing that is going to slow us down. We're watching next year, baby," one fan shouted.
The hundreds of officers patrolling the strip began to make arrests as soon as the game ended. By 11:30 p.m., police had made 20 arrests.
Police had warned earlier in the day that, regardless of whether the Oilers won or lost, drinking in public and acts of mischief wouldn't be tolerated.
Wuite said police were trying to prevent major crimes by strictly enforcing small violations.
About 800 arrests overall during playoffs
Edmonton police have made around 800 arrests during the playoffs, although few arrests have actually led to charges.
After the Oilers defeated the Hurricanes in Game 6 on June 17, an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people crammed Whyte Avenue under the watchful eyes of hundreds of officers. The street was left open to traffic, forcing crowds onto the sidewalks.
Police arrested nearly 400 people, mostly for minor liquor infractions. Most of those arrested spent the night in jail. Only six people were charged, police said.