Young Oilers fan battling cancer joins Zach Hyman for epic post-game presser

·3 min read
Fans outside the Oilers media room chanted 5-year-old Ben Stelters name as he took the podium for an all-time inspirational post-game interview. (Photo via Twitter/Oilers)
Fans outside the Oilers media room chanted 5-year-old Ben Stelters name as he took the podium for an all-time inspirational post-game interview. (Photo via Twitter/Oilers)

Ben Stelter stole the show after the Edmonton Oilers game on Thursday.

The five-year-old Oilers fan, who is currently battling cancer, was the team's “Scotiabank Skater” before the contest, and after the game was invited for a full locker-room tour before hitting the podium for a post-game presser alongside forward Zach Hyman.

Zach Hyman did play “really good,” earning an assist and three shots on goal through 17:38 TOI. And an inculpable Stelter did not hesitate with the presence of Hyman next to him, almost immediately saying that Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are his favourite players when asked the question.

Stelter was diagnosed with a brain tumor one year ago at the age of four and has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy and 40 sessions of radiation treatment to remove it. In December, the tumor returned and in the coming weeks he will undergo more rounds of radiation treatment.

His story and known battles in his young life no doubt help lifted his favourite team to a 5-2 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. The inspiring atmosphere was evident for some players.

“I mean, he lit up the building pretty quickly, so I think it was pretty easy to get up for the game after Ben skated on the ice,” Oilers netminder Mike Smith said. “It always puts things into perspective when you see a little guy like that, what he's been through, to get on the ice like that; to get [Rogers Place] bopping right off the faceoff. Obviously an inspiration to us all and happy we got a big win for him."

Even though Draisaitl was able to score two goals and Smith stood on his head, neither of them were the most important player for the Oilers on this night.

"I know who the MVP of tonight was for sure — absolutely, without a doubt,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “And you should've seen our dressing room after the game. Man, that was the most juice I've seen in our dressing room in a long time. It was a pretty special night."

And the fans knew it as well. During the post-game press conference they started chanting Stelter’s name in the concourse.

The celebration continued through more player interviews, and it was especially audible while Smith was at the microphone. The 40-year-old netminder with 660 NHL games under his belt did not hesitate to take this opportunity to have some fun with the media after Ben left the podium.

“Take it all in bud,” Smith said to Stelter, but also the room. “They can turn on you in a hurry. … That’s off the record.”

With their win over the Sharks, the Oilers find themselves a little more comfortable in third place in the Pacific Division with a 36-24-5 record, sitting three points ahead of the fourth-place Vegas Golden Knights with two games in-hand.

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