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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:27 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

One-goal game again

Calgary refuses to say die.

It's now 4-3 as Gary Roberts scores on a typical power-forward move, driving to the net hard to be in position for Joe Nieuwendyk to feed him with a perfect pass to make it 4-3.

Roberts has a few advantages on his peers in this game. First, he is a fitness freak and he trains several current NHLers, so his cardio level is off the charts for this game. Plus, this is Roberts' second outdoor game in less than two months.

Roberts played for the Pittsburgh alum the day before the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter classic at Heinz Field. The Penguins, unfortunately, dropped that game to the Washington alumni.



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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:21 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Adding to the drama

Calgary has cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the second half when Lanny McDonald was awarded a penalty shot by referee Mick McGeough.

McDonald took the puck at center ice and drove in on Eric Fichaud. As he reached the circles, he settled a bouncing puck and snapped a shot five-hole to cut the deficit to just one.

McDonald's goal was well-received as he is one of the most popular players in Calgary history.

But McGeough showed he wasn't playing favorites when he gave Kevin Haller a penalty shot for Montreal just a minute later. Haller scored with a wrist shot, despite the fact that somebody on the Calgary bench threw a stick at him as he crossed the blue line.

Haller's goal made it 4-2 for the visiting Canadiens.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:15 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Time to shovel

Halftime was not rest time for the players.

Eschewing a Zamboni run because of the heavy use the rink endured today -- two full practices and two family skates -- Dan Craig opted to clean the ice with shovels.

Of course, the players did the heavy lifting, grabbing shovels and skating up and down the ice, pushing the snow into huge piles to be cleaned off by the ice workers.

It was a scene eerily reminiscent of the alumni game at the first Heritage Classic in 2003 when the alumni from Edmonton and Montreal shoveled the snow at halftime. Legends like Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur joined the effort and all the players were given a standing ovation by a packed house at Commonwealth Stadium that braved -22 F temperatures to see Gretzky play in his first game since his retirement four years earlier.




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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:07 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Welcome to halftime

The first of two 20-minute halves has come to an end and the visiting Canadiens are snowing on Calgary's parade, holding a 3-1 lead.

After falling behind 3-0 in the first part of the period, Calgary turned the effort up a notch and got at least one goal before the break to make things interesting.

Calgary goalie Mike Vernon also got better as the period went along. In fact, he made a great last-minute save against Mike Lalor.

That gives the Flames hope heading into the second half. Certainly they will have a lively crowd cheering for the comeback as the 10,000 fans that have piled into McMahon have been both vocal and supportive.




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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 7:01 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Party crashers

Montreal seems intent on ruining this Calgary feel-good party.

Craig Levie just tallied a goal to make it 3-0 on an assist from current Montreal assistant coach Kirk Muller. Brent Gilchrist and Mike Keane had the first two first goals for Montreal.

While some of the Montreal players are having a good time, Brian Skrudland is being killed by his former teammates. Keane playfully called Skrudland the worst roommate he ever had in 23 years of professional hockey and also said Skrudland is the reason his hair has turned gray. Russ Courtnall, meanwhile, said Skrudland did not shut up this afternoon before the game.

Skrudland said he couldn't care less. "I'm just happy to be alive these days," he said, kidding.

And with that, Calgary gets on the board. Montreal goalie Eric Fichaud couldn't handle a slap shot from Al MacInnis and Joe Nieuwendyk showed he stIll has world-class hands by claiming the rebound and putting it in shortside before Fichaud could respond.

Then, Calgary had another goal waved off because the puck was played with a high stick.








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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 6:57 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Montreal leads 2-0

Terry Crisp is talking about the 1989 team in Calgary and is raving about their leadership.

"It was awesome. As a coach, it made your job so much easier," Crisp said.

He talked about Timmy Hunter, who is now a coach for Toronto, taking the team to task as a perfect example.

As soon as he finished, Montreal took a 2-0 lead as Brent Gilchrist scored a goal.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 6:51 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Breaking the Ice

Russ Courtnall is talking about the game on CBC and says it is a bit cold out and that even the short shifts the alums are taking is tough on the lungs.

The game is visually appealing as most of the players are wearing old-fashioned togues perched atop their heads.

It has taken quite a long time to break the ice in this game. We're seven minutes in and there has been no scoring. Mike Vernon of the Flames and Eric Fichaud of Montreal have just been asked to make one tough save each. 

Oops, spoke too quickly as Mike Keane makes me eat my words, scoring from the slot at the 7:30 mark of the game. Keane, who battled injury to play in this game, was camped in the slot and  fired a shot past Vernon, who was already sprawled at the side of the cage to make an initial stop on a Montreal flurry.

1-0 Montreal



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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 6:42 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

We're underway

We're under way here at McMahon.

Calgary started with a powerhouse front line, running out Gary Roberts, Lanny McDonald and Joe Nieuwendyk.

But it was Mike Vernon, in goal, who created the first signature moment of the game. Less than a minute into the game -- his first since he retired -- he made a smart save and helped turn the puck the other way.

Also interesting is that Joel Otto, one of the best two-way centers of his generation, is playing defense in this game.

Also, Martin Gelinas, a former Flame, is playing for Montreal, which has a short bench for this game.





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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 6:34 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Great memories

Calgary forward Theo Fleury has been enjoying the trip down memory lane this weekend in Calgary.

He arrived in Calgary a few days ago after finishing an old-timers tour of Canada. He has been posting twitter messages about his adventures and the reunions with teammates from that 80s powerhouse.

The 1989 team might be the best that this city has ever seen.

Six players on that team, which beat Montreal in six games in the 1989 Stanley Cup Final, produced at least one 50-goal season. Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Haakan Loob, Lanny McDonald, Fleury and Joe Mullen. That team also had Doug Gilmour, who only managed a career-best 42 goals, and topped the 100-point plateau for the first of three times in his career.




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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 6:19 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Heritage Classic alumni live game blog

Excitement building

Faceoff for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game is less than 10 minutes away here at McMahon Stadium.

Excitement has been building throughout the afternoon as the alums from the Calgary Flames prepare to rekindle their late 1980s rivalry with alum from the Montreal Canadiens. The teams met in the Stanley Cup Final twice in the span of four years. Montreal won the first match in 1986, but Calgary gained revenge in 1989, claiming the Stanley Cup at the Montreal Forum to add insult to injury for the proud Flames.

The two alumni rosters are loaded.

Three Hall opf Famers are involved: Lanny McDonald and Al MacInnis are playing for the Flames, and Bob Gainey is coaching for Montreal.

But that is just the beginning of the talent that has been assembled. Mike Vernon, playing goal for the first time since his retirement, Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts and Theo Fleury are playing for Calgary.

Montreal's Guy Carbonneau is joined by Russ Courtnall (Montreal), Jyrki Lumme (Montreal) and Sergio Momesso (Montreal) on board.

It is a perfect late afternoon for hockey as well. Temps are hovering around minus-15 as the sun starts to fall to the horizon and warming a rather large crowd of fans gathered in the east side of the stadium.









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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure