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Making The Pilgrimage Home

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From Baltimore to Winnipeg: Insights Abroad

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ears ringing. Pulse quickening. Pupils dilated. The scent of sweat, beer, and fried foods fusing into a dizzying mixture. The crowd rises and falls with the rhythm of the game before it, feeling every check, turnover, and offensive rush. Tension courses through the audience until that moment of utter catharsis, when the puck enters the net and the sellout-crowd of 15,000 plus shrieks in ecstatic unity. This is the Winnipeg Jets Whiteout, and there’s nothing on Earth quite like it.

The Game 3 Showdown

I came to Winnipeg to experience the infamous Whiteout, but only expected to attend game 4 of the much-anticipated Winnipeg-Nashville series. Thanks to the generosity of the Winnipeg Jets Twitter account, I was granted the incredible gift of tickets to game 3. There aren’t many ways to describe what I experienced that night, other than to simply call it magic. The Jets found themselves in a first-period 3-0 deficit and, against all odds, rallied in periods two and three to win the first home game of the series (game recap).

You’ve all seen the highlights, so I won’t bore you with those details. No, you want to know what it was like to be there. Friends, I can only approximate the feeling of witnessing one of those moments in Jets history that’ll become legend. It began with anxiety, transitioned to despair, became elation, and ended in joy. We screamed, we shouted, we jumped out of our seats, and we sat in disbelief at the powerhouse offensive display we were fortunate enough to see. It was kind of game you’ll never forget, and if the Jets ultimately win the Cup, is sure to be seen as a turning point for this franchise.

Touring Winnipeg

I only came to the ‘Peg to experience the Whiteout, but also got to experience some of the local sights, sounds, and cuisine the city is famous for. I briefly toured food and shopping at The Forks, grabbed coffee at a local hipster coffee shop on Sherbook, met the infamous Murat Ates of The Athletic, enjoyed the auspices of the Yellow Dog, did some shopping at Polo Park Mall, and took a trip through the nightlife in Osborne Village.

For such a relaxed, yet blue-collar town, Winnipeg sure knows how to throw a good party. During the games, the streets were mobbed with fans dressed in white, all celebrating the rare experience of Jets playoff hockey. From every office window hung the phrase “GO JETS GO!” Budweiser even brought in a gigantic red goal light to enhance the atmosphere of the party. Winnipeg isn’t a large city, but from the sizable crowds downtown and the all-encompassing fan spirit, you’d never know it.

As a resident of Baltimore, I’ve never seen anything quite like the Whiteout. The local sports teams here aren’t exactly known for recent success, and even the memory of the 2012 Super Bowl has faded. Winnipeg is blessed to be coming into the young prime of a perennial Cup contender, and should savor the taste of victory for as long as it can. Teams like the Jets are rare, and you never know when this thrill-ride will end.

Some Words of Thanks

This trip of a lifetime would never have been possible without the help of some stellar folks on Twitter, and if you’re reading this, you know who you are. My time in Winnipeg was filled with generosity and kindness, and I can only hope to pay it forward one day. I was blessed to see one of the craziest, most exciting games in Winnipeg Jets history. More than anything, however, I made a group of friends for life.