The puck drops for the 2019 Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, marking the fifth Canadian outdoor game in NHL history. Throughout its time, the Canadian outdoor game paved the road for the NHL Winter Classic, as well as the Stadium Series, two outdoor events that have now become annual traditions.
Looking back at the four Heritage Classic games in years past that date back to 2003, there are a number of memorable moments that go beyond highlight-reel goals and the beauty of playing outdoors. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at the last four games and their top moments.
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2003: Habs’ Jose Theodore rocks the toque
Who could ever forget this moment? Former Montreal Canadiens netminder Jose Theodore, who won the Hart and Vezina in 2002, suited up as the starting netminder for the first-ever Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams skated in -18 degree Celcius temperatures with a -22 degree Celcius wind chill, making it hard for spectators and even the players to stay warm.
So, Theodore played to the weather and made a fashion statement: he took a Habs toque, which featured a pompom on top, and slid it over his helmet. His fashion statement built a legacy for goaltenders playing in outdoor games, as many have taken to the trend of sporting a hat over their masks.
Leave it to say that the now 43-year-old goaltender stole the show at the outdoor showdown, while also making 34 saves en route to a 4-3 win for Montreal.
2011: Rene Bourque strikes twice for Calgary
Rene Bourque, who played in Canada for seven seasons with the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens, went undrafted and made an impressive career for himself in the NHL. A three-time 20-goal scorer, the Lac La Biche, B.C. native was able to impress during his time in Calgary and Montreal and ultimately served as the first star of the 2011 Heritage Classic.
Bourque scored two goals en route to a 4-0 victory for Calgary over Montreal in the outdoor game, both of them coming in impressive fashion. His first tally came on the power play when he crashed the net and tipped in an Alex Tanguay shot toward the front to give Calgary an early 1-0 lead.
He wasn’t finished there, as his second goal followed later on. Coming in tight and wheeling past the defense, the 6-2, 216-pound winger stayed with the play, even under pressure, and went forehand to backhand to lift the puck past Carey Price before tripping over his stick in front.
His two-goal performance marked the second time in Heritage Classic history — the first being Yanick Perreault in 2003 — that a player managed a multi-goal game. He’s the last player to do so outdoors.
2011: Miikka Kiprusoff notches a shutout
Miikka Kiprusoff goes down in history as perhaps the best goaltender in Flames franchise history, given he still leads Calgary all-time in wins (305) and shutouts (41). And one of those whitewashes came against the Canadiens in the 2011 Heritage Classic.
The Finnish netminder led the way for the Flames, making 39 saves en route to a 4-0 win and being named the game’s first star. He became the first goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout in an outdoor game; Cam Talbot would be the only other goalie to follow in 2016. To this day, no goaltender has recorded a shutout in a Winter Classic, and the only other goaltender to record a shutout outdoors was when Jonas Hiller did it in a 3-0 Stadium Series win for the Anaheim Ducks over the Los Angeles Kings.
That season also marked a number of milestones for Kiprusoff, including his 250th win and becoming the first goalie in 25 years to stop two penalty shots in one game.
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2014: Senators ignite spark with two goals in less than two minutes
The 2014 Heritage Classic between the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks — which paid homage to each team’s roots (with the Canucks honoring the early NHL team Vancouver Millionaires) — was full of surprises before the puck even dropped when Roberto Luongo was benched for Eddie Lack. But one moment really turned the tide of the game.
Vancouver scored almost immediately with Jason Garrison netting the first goal five minutes into the first period and Zack Kassian increasing the lead to 2-0 just minutes later. However, with the first period winding down, the Sens refused to take a two-goal deficit to the dressing room. So, they responded in rare form: with two goals in under two minutes.
Clarke MacArthur kicked off the scoring for Ottawa while acting as a screen in front of Eddie Lack. He managed to get into position and tip in a shot from Erik Condra to pull the Senators within one. A minute and 48 seconds later, Ottawa tied it, evening up the game and completely changing the tone that was sent early. On a pass from MacArthur, Karlsson threw a shot on goal that banked off the post and in to make it 2-2.
The Sens would pot two more goals in the second and third period and win the game with four unanswered tallies, as Craig Anderson also made 29 stops on 31 shots.
2016: Three-goal frenzy, Talbot lead way for Oilers
In what turned out to be one of the best seasons for the Edmonton Oilers in recent years, one of the signs pointing to their 2016-17 success was an impressive Heritage Classic performance against the Winnipeg Jets. Thanks to a shutout from Cam Talbot and offensive prowess from Mark Letestu and company, Edmonton was able to secure a 3-0 victory against their long-time rival, the most recent Heritage Classic win to date.
After a scoreless first period, Letestu took matters into his own hands about halfway through the second, going on a shorthanded breakaway and firing a quick shot past Connor Hellebuyck to put the Oilers up 1-0. A little less than two minutes later, Edmonton would convert again; as McDavid sped up the ice, Darnell Nurse sprinted out of the penalty box and joined him on a 2-on-1 rush. Displaying patience and deception, McDavid faked out a sliding Toby Enstrom and got the puck across to Nurse, who finished the play on a perfect one-time shot to make it 2-0. Kassian would add another goal about five minutes later to increase the lead by three.
Talbot would be named the team’s first star, making 31 saves en route to a shutout.