Derek Ryan Heritage blog game

Derek Ryan wrote a blog for as the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Calgary Flames in the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday.

In his final entry, the forward discusses Edmonton’s 5-2 victory on a picture-perfect night at the sold-out stadium. 

It's hard to even put into words what tonight was like, but it's just such a unique, special experience out there. Everything was amazing. You try to concentrate on the game, but also take it all in.

You know, the roar of the crowd seems like it's a little delayed because they're so far away. It's a different vibe than in a normal arena. It's just really cool. It's fun to see the fans show up and be passionate. It's fun to see us get what is obviously a huge win. We are trying to try to get our season going here and hopefully this is a good spot for us to get going.

There were what, 60,000 people here? Yeah, yeah, really cool; it's nice to see. It's really cool to see the all the seats full and hear Nickelback play during the second intermission is really exciting. You could hear them in the locker room and then with guys going in an out and opening the door to the outside. But even with the door closed, you could hear them. It was just a bit more muffled. I was rocking out a bit.

The spectacle of an outdoor game is unbelievable, but it is hard to explain or even absorb because you're so focused on the game. I did try and take a second just to look, around 10 seconds, whatever it is, and kind of soak it in. But you're also so focused on the game that you're trying to be thinking about what you need to do, having a good start, all those things. I think it's probably really special for my family. Hopefully the kids behaved themselves and had a good time and have some good memories too.

Plus, the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too cold. Honestly, I was a little warm on the bench because the benches are heated. I had to stand up a little bit and get away from the heater. I thought it was perfect. You could ask my family, they might have a different answer though sitting in the stands. I hope they weren’t too cold.

The sound of the skating and the sticks and the puck on the ice in a big stadium like this kind of brings you back to your childhood and playing on the pond or the outdoor rinks. Just really special.

Even before all that, when we arrived at the stadium as oil workers, that started the day in a cool way. It was a group idea. There was a lot of different ideas thrown out there. And I think it was just a great way to pay tribute to all the blue-collar, hard-working people of Alberta, especially in Oil Country up here. It’s a great way to pay tribute to them and let them know that we see them and recognize their hard work. We want to be hard workers just like them.

Then, the game starts, and we have a great first period. We talked before the game that Calgary is a very fast-starting team, so we wanted to match, or exceed, that; that work ethic and expectation. I think we did that. We got into a little bit of penalty trouble there in the first that killed our momentum. They snagged a little momentum and spent some time in our offensive zone on the power play and 5-on-5. Going into the third period up one goal, I thought we came out and just played a great period. With the specialness of the game, I thought we came out and played a very professional and mature game.

There was desperation on both sides, but we did a good job of controlling it. It's amplified because of the nature of this game, how big it is. It's obviously early in the season, but things are getting going here and each team is trying to find its game.

This was a huge, huge win. A huge rallying point. I feel like we put forth a game that we can be proud of, that we can build off and continue to build on.

It was great to see Connor McDavid come back and with him playing with Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele, I thought those guys really drove the play. I thought there was a lot of guys in the bottom six that did that too. You know, they made plays. They might not necessarily be getting points all the time, but they were making good plays and creating momentum for us too. A lot of guys on the defense too. I think that everyone contributed.

That's a pretty special moment there at the end when the final horn sounds and you have won. You're savoring the win on the ice and the fans are going crazy and La Bamba is rocking and 60,000 people -- maybe not 60,000, maybe 40,000 -- are smiling. That's probably the most special moment of the game.

It goes by fast. We’ve been talking about this game for months and now it’s over.

Overall, it was a class event in every way.

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