TREVOR HAGAN/ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Team owner Mark Chipman greets fans in the MTS Centre foyer before the start of the Winnipeg Jets game versus the Ottawa Senators Saturday.
While the result might not have been what Adam Philpott and other Winnipeg Jets fans wanted, but there was no denying the experience of watching the Jets home opener at the MTS Centre Saturday was one the Brandon native won’t soon forget.
"It was my first NHL game ever and getting to go to the first game is pretty special and the atmosphere in the building was just awesome," Philpott said. "It was electric."
Unfortunately for Philpott, however, the Ottawa Senators ruined the party for the more than 15,000 hockey fans in attendance, skating off with a 4-1 win. If the win took the wind out of the Jets sails, Philpott said it didn’t seem to stop fans from celebrating.
"There was so much excitement that I don’t think the loss ruined anybody’s night," Philpott said.
Prior to the game beginning, the Jets were introduced — including Mark Scheifele, who was playing in his first NHL game after starting the season with the OHL’s Barrie Colts and representing Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships — and after the final player took to the ice, the Jets waved to their fans as a token of thanks for enduring the lockout.
"Everyone, at least everyone at the game, had already forgotten about the lockout," Philpott said.
Helping fans forget about the previous 113 lockout filled days was the fact that all food and beverages were 50 per cent off at the game.
While the move to appease fans came as a surprise, the bigger surprise might have been how Philpott received his tickets.
"We just walked up to the office and I said, ‘I know this might sound like a stupid question, but do you have Jets tickets for sale?" Philpott said. "I couldn’t believe when she said yes, and just moments before puck drop, we bought tickets to the game."
The excitement for the Jet resonated loud and clear outside of the MTS Centre as well.
Joe Beeverz Bar and Grill was packed as hockey fans finally got a chance to resume watching Canada’s national pastime.
"People are really excited," said bar manager Michel Carels. "And it’s not just the Jets. Fans wants to go out together and cheer for their favourite team and I think they really enjoy the atmosphere here."
Carels said the bar often offers discounts and specials during sporting events, knowing that people want to socialize and be part of the sports community around their favourite team.
"It’s a lot of fun here and we always have the sound pumping and every time the Jets score the lights go off," Carels said. "We work really hard at creating an atmosphere that is fun and exciting and I think people respond to that and they keep coming back."
She also said it was important to get hockey back from a business perspective and that ushering in the new season in January is great for the food and beverage industry as the first month of the year is often the slowest for the business.
"Hockey definitely brings more people in," Carels said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 21, 2013