Blake Coleman is writing a blog for as the Calgary Flames prepare to play the Edmonton Oilers in the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, TBS, MAX).

In the first installment, the forward discusses how his limited experience playing outdoors makes this opportunity even more exciting for him, and his family.

As a Texas kid, I didn't get a lot of time on an outdoor rink. So when I did, they stand out pretty strong in my memories.

My hockey journey didn't start on the ice. I played roller hockey for a handful of years before I even touched the ice. We still played outside, so that enjoyment of being outdoors and that free-flowing love of the game existed. It's the same concept in my mind. But even with that, it's just hard to beat that feeling of being on a pond. There's that sound of the ice and the way it cuts with your skate blade. There's that peacefulness about it. There's that crisp air. The whole experience is fun.

Admittedly, I can probably count on one hand how many times I got to skate on a pond as a kid. They're all great memories, and I'm excited I get the chance to add one more at the Heritage Classic in Edmonton.

I'll get to do it with family, too -- my wife, Jordan; our girls, Charlie and Carson; my parents, Rusty and Sandy; and my sister, Brooke. Truth be told, being with the Flames has given my family the chance to skate outdoors much more than when I was a kid. Here in Calgary I've got to enjoy it a little bit, in the neighborhoods taking my daughters out and getting them out on the pond. It's also a little bit for me at the same time because I enjoy that peacefulness of being outside.

I try to do it as much as I can. We try to find some time to get out there. We've got a great rink near us. They Zamboni it every day. Occasionally I'll just go out by myself and shoot pucks and enjoy that experience of being outside because I didn't grow up with it. If I can, I bring the girls. They really enjoy it. They're not the best skaters yet but we're working on that part. But they just enjoy being out there.

The Heritage Classic will be their first outdoor game, and it'll be my first one in the NHL.

I'm not quite an outdoor veteran, but believe it or not there's a half-outdoor practice rink in Texas and we'd get to do that once, maybe twice per year. It was roofed, but open air. In winter it gets down there below freezing in December, January, February ... just enough. I was also fortunate enough to play two outdoor games in college, both at Soldier Field in Chicago.

But this will be different. It's not something you think you're going to get to be a part of growing up. But when you do get the chance, it's a pretty special moment.

And the fact that this one is the first-ever outdoor Battle of Alberta just adds another wrinkle to that special moment Sunday. It's exciting. It adds a little bit of excitement and fire to the game. It's no secret that both of our teams are not where we want to be right now at this point of the year too, and all it takes is one game to turn a season around. We're both staring down that opportunity. That adds even more importance to this game, and while it is going to be fun and exciting, those two points are going to be really valuable here.

So too will be the experience. Getting to take that battle outdoors is taking it to another level, both from a team view and a personal perspective. It takes us back.

I've got some exciting memories I think back to every time I go out on a sheet like that, and those will come flooding back when we get to hit the ice at the Heritage Classic.

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