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Fans travel great distances to see Heritage Classic

by Robin Brownlee
CALGARY -- More than an hour before the puck dropped between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens at the 2011 Tim Horton's Heritage Classic, Kelby Devers was sitting in his seat in the chilling cold with a big smile on his face.

Draped in a Carey Price jersey, Devers sat perched in row 37 taking the atmosphere in as the crowd filed into the stadium after making a 12-hour drive from the relatively balmy climes of Vancouver.

"Because it's a great rivalry and the Canadiens are the best," shrugged Devers, asked what prompted him to pack up his truck and make the trek through the mountains to Calgary.

Devers, 29, made the same long journey in 2003, flying in to attend the original Heritage Classic between the Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium.

"That day was a lot colder than this," Devers said of the game in Edmonton. "This is nothing. It was so cold, it was hard to watch, but it was still worth it."

Down in the concourse of McMahon Stadium before the teams took the ice for the warm-up, Jeremy Burke, his faced painted in Montreal colors and wearing a P.K. Subban jersey, huddled with other Canadiens' fans. He made the trip from London, Ont.

"When Montreal played against Edmonton in the first Heritage Classic, I was too young to come out then. I was still in school, a starving student and I couldn't afford it, but I'm here now," Burke said.

For Burke, 27, the draw of the spectacle that is the Heritage Classic is pretty straightforward, chilly weather and all.

"Hockey started out on the ponds, so a game like this one is sort of being a part if it coming full circle to where everything started," Burke said. "It's just cool to see it."

Dave Chan, originally from Saskatchewan who now lives in Calgary, didn't have to travel far to get to the game, but that didn't diminish his excitement as he awaited the arrival of the Flames and Canadiens.

"I love hockey and this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events," said Chan, decked out in a Robyn Regehr jersey and Calgary colours. "You can't miss it. I've got a team to support, so I'm here."

Devers, clearly no fair-weather fan despite living in Vancouver, offered some simple advice to battle the cold.

"You just have to get into the game," he said. "You just have to get your blood flowing and don't give in to the cold. Cheer as loud as you can as often as you can."
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