EDMONTON — Temperatures were expected to be more comfortable for the NHL's Heritage Classic on Sunday than they were for the event's inaugural edition 20 years ago at Commonwealth Stadium.
Oilers fan Brent Oliver braved the frigid conditions in 2003 and was excited to return for this year's outdoor game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. Forecasters expected the temperature to hover around the freezing mark with mostly cloudy conditions for the late-afternoon puck drop.
Like many of the 57,167 fans who saw the Montreal Canadiens beat the Oilers 4-3 in 2003, Oliver's lasting memory was the -18 C temperature with a wind chill that made it feel like -30 C.
"I left in the third (period) last time because after the alumni game and main game, I was frozen to the core,” recalled Oliver. “It took me three days to warm up.”
The Oilers and Flames have both struggled in the early going this season. Calgary entered play Sunday with a 2-5-1 record, slightly better than Edmonton's 1-5-1 mark.
Both teams heard choruses of boos in 3-0 home losses on Thursday night. The St. Louis Blues shut out the Flames and the Oilers fell to the New York Rangers.
Reigning NHL MVP Connor McDavid, who has missed the last two games due to an upper-body injury, was expected to return for Edmonton.
Pre-game festivities were set to kick off on Sunday afternoon with a free concert by alternative rock band Beaches at nearby Clarke Stadium. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Nickelback were tabbed to provide the second-intermission entertainment.
Ticket sales were strong for the game with Ticketmaster's website showing only resale tickets available as of early Sunday afternoon.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2023.
Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press