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Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Remembering the Heritage Classic

Four years ago, a bunch of us from Nation HQ made our way to Winnipeg for the Heritage Classic and it was easily one of the best Nation Vacations that we’ve ever done. With that in mind, I wanted to put together something quick to look back at our time in Winnipeg, the people we met along the way, and ask all of you what you remember from what was an undoubtedly a great moment to be an Oilers fan.

One of the things that I was most excited about when it came to this trip was watching the alumni game that featured some of the greatest players to ever lace ’em up. As we all know far too well, the Oilers have an incredible history and seeing all of those guys get back on the ice and have a great time while they were at it was a real pleasure to watch. Even though the Oilers lost the alumni game, it was still amazing to see the likes of Gretzky, Messier, Tikkanen, Fuhr, Anderson, and Smytty do their thing.

As for the main event, we had an absolute blast from the moment we crushed our brunch at the Pint Winnipeg (RIP) to drinking our way through the two-hour sun delay, which added another flavour to what was already an incredible day. Not only did the Oilers win what ended being a very important game on their road to the playoffs, but we got to experience a very special scene with Oilers fans and Nation citizens from around the country. After getting home and taking a moment to think about what had just happened, here’s how I described the scene:

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After a two-hour sun delay (and several hundred dollars worth of beer), the real game was set to go and the Oilers had a chance to ruin a lot of people’s weekend. Winnipeg’s alumni had taken the first game, and the Jets fans around us were feeling pretty confident that they were going to sweep the weekend. Personally, I’ve been an Oilers fan for my whole life so I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Oilers had dropped another nationally televised turd, but these ain’t last year’s Oilers. Our boys in blue had other plans, and a scorching second period put the visitors up by three goals and sent Edmonton fans into hysterics.

In our section, Chris the Intern and I had spent the sun delay spending all of my money on beers so when the game finally started we were already greased and in the mood for trash talking. After the second period outburst which saw the Oilers score three goals, we had all the ammunition we needed for the Nation section to chirp any Jets fans within earshot. To their credit, most of the Jets fans around us had a decent sense of humour about it, but you know that our barbs were cutting them to the core and I loved every minute of it. Losing to the Oilers in a nationally televised outdoor game had to hurt, and I loved it.

One thing that I can’t mention enough is how that weekend wouldn’t have been the same without the amazing people we met along the way. From the folks that won trips through the site to join us on our journey, to those that drove to Winnipeg from Edmonton, the best part of any event we’re at are the Nation citizens that make those moments feel incredibly special. When I think back to that weekend, the first thing that comes to mind was obviously how wonderful it was for Oilers fans that we were all able to head behind enemy lines and enjoy a nationally televised win on hockey’s biggest stage, but also for the long list of strange and hilarious moments that happened outside of hockey. We took wrong turns and walked through weird neighbourhoods, we stayed in a strange hotel, we ate at some really cool local restaurants, and we made some foggy memories that will last a lifetime.

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For me, looking back on the Heritage Classic brings back so many great feelings from a wonderful trip with amazing people, and I can’t wait until we’re able to do it again. If you were there, let me know what you remember in the comments section. If you watched from home, let me know what you were thinking as we watched the Oilers shut out the Jets by a 3-0 margin.