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Hockey fans brave the cold early for Heritage Classic Fan Festival

FeaturesHockey fans brave the cold early for Heritage Classic Fan Festival

Hockey fans of all ages flooded the PROLINE+ Pregame Fan Festival before the Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday, March 13. 

Dedicated fans came out as early as four hours before the puck dropped between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres to take in all that the fan festival had to offer.

Over the course of the afternoon, fans got the chance to check out a number of activities hosted by NHL partners including, but not limited to, Rogers, Clorox, Esso, Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons. 

Fans tried their hand at popular hockey skills challenges like the KITKAT Hardest Shot challenge and the Oikos Accuracy Challenge. They also got to combine the strength and accuracy skills to beat up an old washer and dryer set with their shots at the Olymel tent. 

A Toronto Maple Leafs fan tests the strength and accuracy of their shot at the Olymel tent during the Heritage Classic pregame at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday, March 13.

The Stanley Cup was in attendance for photo opportunities at the Hockey Hall of Fame tent, as fans in line whispered about whether or not they should touch it in their photo. The Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy were also available for fans to get an up-close look at.

A Buffalo Sabres fan poses for a photo with the Stanley Cup during the pregame fan festival at the Heritage Classic in Hamilton on Sunday, March 13.

Arguably the most popular tent was Scotiabank’s as they welcomed in members of the Canadian women’s hockey team that recently won gold at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. 

Fans lined up for the chance to get an autograph and a selfie with their favourite players including captain Marie-Philip Poulin and hometown hero Sarah Nurse. 

Jill Saulnier, from the Canadian women’s hockey team, signs with a fan during a meet-and-greet at the Scotiabank tent at the Heritage Classic on Sunday, March 13.

Every 30 minutes, different members of the team rotated into the tent and some fans hopped back into the line to have more players sign their gear.

In addition to testing their skills and meeting their favourite players, fans had the chance to enter giveaways with prizes like a premium seat upgrade from Kruger Products.

Paz from The Hockey Circus Show attracted fans with his show that included juggling hockey sticks on fire, and jabs at some of the most popular NHL teams.

Fans gather to watch Paz juggle flaming hockey sticks during The Hockey Circus Show at the Heritage Classic pregame festivities on Sunday, March 13.

Canadian Tire was on site giving away free sunglasses for the game in celebration of the game, while Upper Deck printed personalized hockey cards and Heritage Classic trading card sets.

Hungry hockey fans grabbed a bite to eat from a number of food trucks on site including funnel cakes, hot dogs and the Canadian favourite, poutine.

The fan festival was open for fans to check out throughout the game, until the end of the second intermission.

Retired NHL player Val James, who played for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres, poses for a photo with his hockey card at the Upper Deck tent at the Heritage Classic on Sunday, March 13.
A live-painter works on a special Heritage Classic piece at the Rogers tent during the Heritage Classic pregame fan festival at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday, March 13.

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