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Staying focused

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames

Steve Staios surveyed the media-crowded Calgary Flames dressing room Friday as he was asked about what advice he had imparted to his teammates about playing in the Heritage Classic.

"Be ready for this," he said, waving towards the media crammed into the room.

Oh, and be ready for ticket requests and the arrival of friends and family. Sure, take it all in. All the hoopla, all the attention.

But then. Focus, boys, focus.

As a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Staios played at a frigid Commonwealth Stadium in November 2003 in the first Heritage Classic against the Montreal Canadiens. The temperature was somewhere near minus 30 C. So cold, in fact, that one of the strongest memories he has is of the fans staying for the entire game.

"They showed great resilience staying the whole game," recalled Staios.

Temperature predictions for Sunday's Tim Horton's Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium are between minus 11 and minus 15 C. Still chilly but nothing like Edmonton in 2003.

"If the ice is good, it will be a skillful game," said Staios. "In Edmonton it was a test of will. There weren't a lot of plays made. The ice conditions were as good as they could be in Edmonton. The conditions were just so extreme."

Staois and forward David Moss, who will play in his third outdoor game having playing outside while at the University of Michigan and again at the World Championships in Germany, have passed on some helpful hints to their teammates.

"There are some different kinds of underwear you can put on that helps. You have to change (undergarments) between periods," said Staios.

The Flames will get their first look at McMahon converted from football to hockey on Saturday morning when they practice on the Heritage Classic ice. It will, no doubt, be another day of media questions, ticket requests and who knows what else.

Staios said there is nothing wrong with taking it all in.

"There is a lot of fun and a lot of excitement for this. Try to enjoy it because when the game comes, you have to be focused. It's a big event. This is a great event you can reflect on post-game or post-season. At the same time you want to take a look around at what is going on a couple of times," said Staios.

Once the game nears, however, it's another two points on the line in a tight playoff battle.

"It's game on. You've got to be focused," said Staios. "The game means a lot to us so we are going to be prepared for it."
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