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Experience of a lifetime

The Flames look back on the Heritage Classic

Sunday, 20.02.2011 / 9:54 PM / Heritage Classic
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames walked away from the Heritage Classic with not only a 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pushing them to sixth place in the Western Conference, but with the experience of a lifetime.

"It was as good as I could have hoped for and that we could have hoped for," captain Jarome Iginla said. "We're definitely very fortunate to be a part of it."

Defenceman Cory Sarich pointed out that while the game surrounded around the two teams, the entire experience involved a great number of people.

"There was a lot of build-up going into it. We don't see a lot of what goes on. We're kept in our own little bubble. We get to come here for a few minutes yesterday to get organized and today was kind of a normal game day routine. It's pretty spectacular when you actually head out the doors for warmup before the game to see how it's all come together. It was a really neat experience."

While the ice wasn't as chippy as it was for the Flames alumni game on Saturday evening, it wasn't optimal but Sarich believes it actually aided the team.

"Your nerves get up when the puck's rimmed around your side, when you've got to handle the puck in tight spots. It's not a comfortable feeling but we adjusted well as a team. It kind of suits our game. We've been trying to play some straightforward hockey lately and that's what we did tonight."

Rene Bourque, who potted two goals and notched his 100th career goal in the victory, felt the game was not only the highlight of his season but one of the best moments of his career.

"I think it's right up there with playing your first game, scoring your first goal, things like that. It's just fun to be part of this and playing in front of these people, especially when you're sitting on the bench and you're looking out and seeing 40,000 people, cold outside, but they're cheering loud and having a good time."

During his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche, Alex Tanguay won a Stanley Cup and the veteran winger ranked the Heritage Classic close to that career milestone.

"This is a game that after my career I'm certainly going to cherish and remember," he said in his postgame press conference. "It's every day that for us as a player we get a chance to play regularly in front of 20,000 people. But it's not every day that you get to do it in front of the big stadium like that, in front of that many fans."

The Flames were quick to credit the crowd for keeping their energy up for the entire game.

"For the fans to brave the weather and stay out there for three periods .... yesterday we were skating around and we were cold," said Tanguay. "And those fans stayed out there for three periods, sitting in their seats. It's pretty remarkable."

"We couldn't hear much of the music because it went out towards the sides but the fans brought us our life," added Curtis Glencross. "It was great to see so many fans out in this weather."

The weather was the chief concern of many in attendance and while the cold temperatures may have frozen those in the stands, the players themselves didn't feel the chill.

"We weren't really cold. Once the game started, you get used to it," Iginla said. "It was a little shocking at first. You come out and everything feels a little bit different but as the game went on, it felt a lot more normal. It was awesome."

Blueliner Jay Bouwmeester expressed his gratitude for being able to play in the Heritage Classic by noting it was a once in a lifetime event.

"Obviously when you win it feels a lot better and things go a little smoother but it's something you'll remember. I don't know if anyone will get to play one of these again."