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Iginla Recalls Cold Outdoor Games in Alberta

by Callie Parmele / Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla spent his first 16 seasons with the Calgary Flames. Toward the end of his time in Calgary, Iginla skated with the Flames in the 2011 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic against the Montreal Canadiens.

The 38-year-old registered an assist on an Alex Tanguay marker as the Flames shutout the Canadiens 4-0 in front of 41,022 people at McMahon Stadium, home of the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. Iginla will play in his second outdoor game on Saturday, this time in a Major League Baseball cathedral, as the Colorado Avalanche takes on the Detroit Red Wings in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Coors Field.

The temperature at game time will likely be a lot warmer than it was five years ago in Alberta.

“It was cold, it was at least minus-20 degrees Celsius as a night game, but we had heated benches,” the Edmonton, Alberta, native recalled. “I felt for our fans. You know they packed [the stadium], but it was truly freezing. It was still a lot of fun though, as cold as it was.

“The NHL and everyone did a really good job to keep us warm around the benches. You got tons of heat and you didn't feel it. Then you go on the ice, you get cold and then you get off.”

Denver is forecasted to have high temperatures in the mid-50s in the days leading up to the game, something that the veteran is looking forward to.

“I think not freezing. I would say maybe plus-5 or plus-10 degrees Celsius (41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit), which it might be around and I think that would be good,” Iginla said of what his ideal weather conditions would be. “You want to be warm, and I think we play in a pretty warm building. I think it will be cool just to be outside but not be hot, ideally.”

Growing up in Canada, the forward has many happy memories of playing outside with friends after school.

“I played on an outdoor rink all the time. We had a rink just down the block from my grandparents; I would go there every day after school, and it was a ton of fun,” he said. “Some days you played on your own, and some days you had your buddies, and then some days you got a big pickup game where there are tons of ages and all of it was a nice combination. Here it gets too warm, but there it was the too cold days that you would try to go in and out of a little shack we had to warm up for 10 minutes.”

With the regular season at its homestretch and a tight playoff race in the Western Conference ensuing, the right wing knows the importance of winning and earning two points next weekend.

“The game is very important,” said Iginla. “You want to have fun, but I think that should make for a good game.

“The points matter on both sides. It’s not just to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere, which goes with it, but it’s going to be about winning the game, absolutely.”

Hopefully, Iginla and the rest of the Avs will be able to appreciate the atmosphere that comes with an outdoor game as well as get a victory over the Red Wings on Saturday.

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