In most great events, there is always the opening band or the undercard prior to the main event, in order to warm up the crowd, help build the anticipation and excitement, and put butts in the seats as it were. Yesterday's Heritage Classic Alumni Game between the Jets and Oilers of yesteryear did just that, and it was a great way to end one chapter in this heated Smyth Division, Western Conference rivalry, and start anew on another as today's teams take to the outdoor ice of Investor's Group Field.
Today's #NHLJets starting lineup: Ehlers-Perreault-Wheeler; Enstrom-Myers ; Hellebuyck. Scratches: Stuart, Little, Thorburn.— TSN 1290 Winnipeg (@TSN1290Radio) October 23, 2016
Today's #Oilers starting lineup: Lucic-McDavid-Eberle; Sekera-Russell; Talbot. Scratches: Slepyshev, Benning.— TSN 1290 Winnipeg (@TSN1290Radio) October 23, 2016
Following the delay due to sun, it's finally happening! The Heritage Classic is about to begin! pic.twitter.com/FBV8W5HqAq— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 23, 2016
1st Period: Start of the game was delayed by 2 hours due to the nice weather and the sun! Whaaat? Nice weather in Winnipeg? Terrible! Oilers pressing early. Crowd roars with hits from Laine and Lowry. Some sun reflecting off of the ice in the Oilers end. Everyone has been in the game by the 3 minute mark. Shots are 3 to 1 in favour for Winnipeg. Lots of back and forth, chip n' chase and turnovers as both teams seem to be testing the ice's limits in the first 5 minutes. Both goalies are sporting touques held on by double sided velcro tape, and Byfuglien is wearing custom made skates. Spiffy!
No netting behind the nets, so pucks that are shot high wind up in the ground...at least there's nothing interrupting the play and no players are yelling "CAR!" as the nets are shuffled out of traffic's way. Lots of line matching going on. Oilers with the first penalty as Lucic goes off for roughing. Jets on the power play, but fought off by the Oilers. Jets are winning the board play as they are hitting everything that moves. No goal. Period ends as the sun goes long along the ice, but will have disappeared by the time the second period starts.
2nd Period: For the first few minutes of the second period, the color commentators Simpson and Hughson have been going on and on how nice it is to watch a hockey game from the boards as opposed to being 200 feet away, above the ice. The speed of the game and the size of the players, blah blah yada, yada!. Well, don't 33,000+ people who paid $150+ to sit in the lower bowl at the least 100 feet away from ice level, and at most 400 feet away in the upper bowl, feel like they're being ripped off. Don't Simpson and Hughson like outdoor games? Or are they gloating because they are the only ones in the stadium that can see the puck without binoculars or hindering sight lines?
Great, a ref cam shot...rub it on some more! Edmonton takes another penalty, as Nurse hits the box. Oilers' Letestu breakaway shorthanded, scores. 1-0 Oilers. Jets carry on with the power play. Byfuglien goofs up for the second time in 20 seconds, the mic picks up "f@()kin' ice!!"! Another ref cam shot, highlighting how great it is to be so, so close! Rub, rub, and rub some more! As the penalty ends, Nurse out of the box, creates a two on one, and the Oliers score. 2-0 Oilers with 8:50 left in the second, 1:45 seconds apart for both goals. Lots of Jets line juggling going on. Oilers' Kassian with the shot and beats Hellebuyck's glove. 3-0 Oilers with 2:44 left in the second. 3 points for Kassian in this game. What the hell? 3 goals on 12 shots for the Oilers. Another ref cam shot, as the Jets player falls and slides into your living room. Oilers' Sekera goes off for tripping, and the Jets back on the PP. 0-2 so far. Period ends with 12 seconds left in Jets power play.
Concessions officially out of hot dogs, $400,000 is the new 50/50 total, and another love fest for Teemu & Ducky highlight the second intermission! Even the Jets PR are questioning another comeback...
3rd Period: Hughson with another gem - " 16 minutes left in the game, and the sun is almost gone. Still shining on those in the upper deck, as the lights come on". Nice, thanks Jim! So, not only did the game start 2 hours late because of the lack of cloud cover, it's pointed out that some spectators have had the sun in their eyes for the entire game! Does Hughson want to encourage people to stay home and reward those who didn't buy tickets, in that they received the best value by watching on TV? I didn't spend a dime and stayed home to watch on TV, and Hughson is making me feel I was smart. But, I'm not, and as those 33,000+ Jets fans leave the stadium, they might think he was right. Jets tickets are deathly expensive as it is in the MTS Centre. But, this is Winnipeg, where people will shell out cash to be inconvenienced over and over, time and time again...and like it, hence the "True North" during each national anthem. However, there's soon to be a threshold or a tipping point as to how much the fans will take before keeping their money in their pockets, and it may come sooner than later if the Jets don't win this game, despite the quality experience offered up by TNSE. Jets' Perreault takes a puck or a stick to the face, goes off, comes back for his first shift and takes a high sticking penalty. Oilers go on the power play. Jets' Myers takes a cross checking penalty and gives the Oilers' a 5 on 3 for 55 seconds. Perreault's penalty ends but the Oilers still have a man advantage for another 1:05. Jets kill off the Myers penalty. Jets pull the goalie with 5 minutes left! Jets' Hellebuyck back in the net with 4:05 left. Jets pull the goalie again with 2:37 left. Oilers' McDavid takes a tripping call, so the Jets go on the power play. 0-3 on 7 shots so far for the man advantage for the Jets. Jets still with the empty net, so it's 6 on 4. Jets call time out with 1:20 left. Oilers kill off the penalty and the whistle blows down the play with 7 seconds left. No dice and the Oilers take the Heritage Classic 3-0. New dad to twins, Talbot, with the shut out, and the NHL walks away with bags and bags of moolah!