Monday, 19 August 2019

Heading Outside

You may have heard that there will be an outdoor hockey in Canada this year as the Winnipeg Jets will set up show as the home team against the Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan for the 2019 Heritage Classic! And while the NHL game will be a big deal in the Queen City, there is another game that will hit the field at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, October 27, one day after the Jets and Flames do battle at the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The WHL's Regina Pats will host the the Calgary Hitmen in a classic Western Hockey League showdown, marking that game as just the third outdoor game in WHL history!

Back in 2011, there were a pair of outdoor games, marking the first time the WHL had its teams venture outside for a game. The Spokane Chiefs met the Kootenay Ice on January 16, 2011, and it was likely a game that Kootenay - now Winnipeg - would like to forget as the Chiefs crushed the Ice in an 11-2 rout. 7075 fans showed up at Avista Stadium, home of the single-A Spokane Indians baseball team, to cheer on their WHL lads as they put the walloping on the Ice. 102 penalty minutes were assessed in the game as the physicality wasn't lost in the outdoor atmosphere in Spokane, Washington.

The second game featured two teams already mentioned here as the Calgary Hitmen played host to the Regina Pats at McMahon Stadium following the 2011 Heritage Classic that featured the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens. On the afternoon of Monday, February 21, 2011, the Pats met the Hitmen at the home of the Calgary Stampeders for their second game of the weekend after defeating the Pats 2-1 in a shootout on the Friday before the outdoor game. On this day, there would be less of a blowout than what was seen in Spokane as Chandler Stephenson, now of the Washington Capitals, buried the game-winner with 36.5 seconds to play to push the Hitmen past the Pats by a 3-2 score. It should be noted that this game set the CHL record for attendance as 20,888 fans showed up to McMahon Stadium to watch their Hitmen down the Pats. It broke the previous record of 20,081 fans who attended the OHL game between the Ottawa 67’s and Kingston Frontenacs at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on December 20, 2004.

The fans in Regina usually come out rabid when there's football being played, so I expect a near-capacity crowd for the NHL game that will take place on Saturday, October 26. However, Regina is proud of the Pats, and we may see 33,000 fans show up and smash that CHL attendance record on Sunday when the Pats and Hitmen tangle once more. Tickets to see the WHL game are very reasonable, checking in at $18.50 with taxes and fees included, and will be available for purchase next Thursday on August 29. If you're a Regina Pats season-ticket holder, you already have a ticket reserved for you as part of your ticket plan!

If you're going for the Heritage Classic game in Regina, do yourself a favour and stay for the WHL game the next day. WHL hockey is fast, exciting, and physical, and the outdoor setting at Mosaic Stadium will be one you won't forget. Isn't that how hockey is supposed to feel and be remembered?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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