Party fuels fans' fire

BILL LAYE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

The battle cry for the premiere Calgary-Edmonton hockey showdown of the season escalated into a whooping good time for fans yesterday at the Saddledome.

Hockey fans from the rivalling cities flocked by the thousands to one of the hottest tickets in town, the free Telus Late Night Tailgate party co-sponsored by the Flames and the Sun.

The full night of family-friendly fun outside the Saddledome drew eager fans dressed in flaming red, in addition to the sell-out crowd watching the game from inside the arena.

Outside, partiers were able to watch a live feed of the game on a huge video screen.

And while the party featured an adults-only area for alcohol, the focus was on giving fans of all ages a chance to cheer on the Flames.

As they hoped to win tickets to the game at last night's party, Bill and Charlotte Szentmiklossy and their family -- all clad in Flames jerseys -- were expecting lots of action.

"We're hoping Calgary's going to kick some butt," said Bill as he held Pogo, a Jack Russell terrier pup sporting his own Flames doggie sweater.

"They gave us such a good run for our money during their last year, it doesn't matter if they win or lose, we're going to back them 100 percent," added Charlotte, 35, as daughters Sydney, 7, and Miranda, 10, watched the big screen.

Also clad in Flames jerseys, Kristy Hill and son Nicholas, 6, said they'd be Flames fans forever.

"I can't wait -- this is the first game of the season for us," said Hill, 26.

"We take in as many games as we can."

Hill added she's expecting another Stanley Cup run this year.

"It's starting today."

But long-term Edmonton fan Shane Janvier had other predictions.

"Chris Pronger will score and the Oilers will win in a shoot-out," said Janvier, 25, in one of the few Oilers jerseys to be seen.

"I was born in northern Alberta and I will always support it."

But some, like Debi Case and Andrea Vornbrook, weren't so lucky getting tickets for the game and had to make alternate plans.

"But we're hoping the Flames will kick some butt," said Vornbrook, 50, at the tailgate party outside the 'Dome.

Starting at 6 p.m. and running through midnight, the party featured ticket giveaways every 15 minutes, along with other prizes, including five people who won the chance to go on the ice during the second intermission to compete for a brand new Ford Mustang.


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