Local shares wild season to Stanley Cup game seven

By David Fleet
Sunrise, Fla. — For defenseman Ben Gleason it was a new team, new country and a wild ride to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Gleason, a Brandon Township native was signed by the Edmonton Oilers, last summer following five years with the Texas Stars. Despite a strong 2023 preseason camp, Gleason, 25, was sent to the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League an affiliate of the Oilers.
“I was not expecting to make the Oilers after a solid camp last summer,” said Gleason. “But I wanted to put my name out there.”
On Dec. 7, the Oilers made a roster move recalling Gleason from the Condors as the seventh defenseman, who practices and travels with the team, then would play in the event of injuries.
“There’s ‘go-to-guys’ and there’s bubble guys,’ and I’ve been that bubble guy this season,” he said.
The Oilers started the 2023 season with a dismal 5-13 record. However, as the season progressed the team went on a run, that included a remarkable 16-0 streak just one win shy of an NHL record.
“I was with the team for a 16-0 run, that was exciting to be a part of too,” he said.
After about a three week stint he was sent back to the Condors in January. Gleason was having a stellar season tallying 10 goals, 22 assists for 32 points.
The Oilers finished the season 49-27-6 with 104 points good for second in the NHL Pacific Division making the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The team defeated the LA Kings 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs then on May 6, Gleason was one of eight players called up for a second stint with the Oilers in the drive to the Stanley Cup.
“It was a quick series against the Kings,” he said. “But you could see there was something special brewing with this team for the playoff run. People say it’s the hardest trophy to win in sports, there’s no easy way to do it.”
The Oilers won the second playoff series against Canadian foe Vancouver Canucks 4-3.
“People had their doubts on Edmonton again,” he said. “The Canucks were favored in that series.”
The Oilers then defeated the Dallas Stars 4-2, Gleason’s former team, for the Clarence Campbell Bowl as the NHL’s Western Conference champions.
“I went to lunch with a few of the players when they came to Edmonton,” he said. “It was crazy to see. They say the first two rounds of the playoffs are the hardest. The last two rounds we were back in a routine, and played our game. The next thing you know it’s the Stanley Cup final.”
The Oilers dropped the first three games of the finals versus the Florida Panthers and facing elimination.
“We kind of laid an egg going down 3-0 everyone was in full panic,” he said.
The Oilers rallied for three straight wins to tie the best of four series and force a game 7.
“Next thing we win one game, then two and all of sudden it’s game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.”
The Oilers came up short and lost the final game 2-1 in Florida on June 24.
“At the end of the day the loss is a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “We have two players on the team, (Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid) probably deserve it more than other players do but have not gotten it yet. But watching these leaders on and off the ice playing hard, playing through injuries, away from their families for two extra months and while they are sad about the loss they still have a smile on their faces. As a young player that’s what you look up to, you realize how close we were but there’s always next year. Still, we did something special this year coming from where we started the season to where we finished. We didn’t get the ultimate goal, but we did a great job.”
Gleason, played in 290 career AHL games with the Texas Stars over the last five seasons before coming to Edmonton, with 29 goals and 141 points. He has one assist in four career NHL games.
In 2014 Gleason, as a Brandon High School sophomore, was considered one of the top defenseman on a U18 Detroit Honeybaked travel team stocked with talent
Gleason was drafted by the London Knights as the 36th draft pick overall in the second round of Ontario Hockey League’s 2014 Priority Selection. The OHL is part of the Canadian Hockey League—a development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and five American states.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.