CALGARY, AB -- With music blasting in the background, thousands of bundled up fans streamed into the 88,000 square foot Spectator Plaza in the McMahon Stadium to for pre-game festivities.
"It's awesome," said Tom Jensen, a Flames fan who travelled from Vancouver for the Heritage Classic. "It's not as cold as it was yesterday so that makes it even better."
Parked outside the Cisco TelePresence tent, Jensen had just come from an NHL trivia challenge with Flames alumni Theoren Fleury and he couldn't contain his grin when asked about the experience.
"It was the highlight of my year," he said. "So great. There are no words for it."
In past NHL outdoor games, the visitor has prevailed in four of the five contests. The avid Flames fan didn't even hesitate when asked if he thought Calgary could overcome the challenge of being the home team at the Heritage Classic.
"Oh, of course. I say 7-1 Flames. It's going to be a blowout."
With the vast majority of fans within Specator Plaza donning assorted Flames gear, that incredibly optimistic view was shared by most.
"The Flames are going to win, for sure," said Darren Collins of Olds. "I'm
"This is by far the biggest Flames event I've been to. I love it. I hope they do again against the pimple-town pukes aka the Edmonton Oilers," he smirked.
His friend Grant Roberts echoed that sentiment, adding he's never seen anything like it.
"I went to a few Flames games during their playoff run in 2004 and this is by far better than that. Everyone is so into it. They did a really great job in here. Definitely a great job from everyone involved, from the Flames through to the guys at McMahon."
With the temperature sitting at -10 C and the windchill making it feel about 10 degrees colder, most had several layers on underneath full snow suits. Spectator Plaza was at capacity by 2:30 PM and Roberts noted it was a testament to how much the city loves the both the Flames and sport as a whole.
"The fact that this place is already jammed shows that we're a pretty tough crew in Calgary. Everyone here knows what Alberta winters are like, they dressed for it and they're ready to support the best team in the NHL."