The 2015-16 Jets season will be the team’s fifth since returning to Winnipeg. The past four years have been filled with memories for fans, filling the void of years without their team and Jets have been the talk around the water cooler nearly every day since their return. While every game provides its own memories, there are a few games that stand out. Games that all Jets fans remember, that when brought up, bring a smile to their faces and can be discussed for hours on end. So let’s take a look at some of these games and remember some great times.
Honourable Mention: Columbus @ Winnipeg, September 20th, 2011
Yes, I know this is a pre-season game, but it was the first time Jets fans were able to see their team in their uniforms and in action. It didn’t take long for the Jets to win the hearts of Winnipeg, the first shift couldn’t have been better and more what Winnipeggers wanted. It took Dustin Byfuglien all of five seconds to lay a huge hit on an unsuspecting Blue Jackets prospect, and another seven or eight seconds before he had his second massive body check of the night. Then all hell broke loose, gloves were off punches were thrown. Byfuglien took on Cody Bass while feet away Mark Stuart dropped the gloves with Dane Byers. The crowd went crazy and they would not be quieted on this night. Paul Postma opened the scoring just over seven minutes in, but the spotlight was stolen by Mark Scheifele. In his introduction to Jets fans he scored twice, had two assists, and had the crowd chanting his name. It was a night he’ll never forget, and neither will Jets fans. Winnipeg cruised to a 6-1 win in their debut.
5. Winnipeg @ Toronto, March 16th, 2013
For the real beginning of our list we head to Toronto for an instant classic on Hockey Night in Canada. A Saturday night in front of a loud Leafs fan base with just enough Jets fans in the building to make their presence felt. The Leafs opened the scoring just a minute and a half in when Joffrey Lupul shoveled a back hand over Ondrej Pavelec’s glove. It was Lupul’s first game after missing 25 with a broken arm and had the Leafs fans going nuts. The Jets roared back in the second period scoring four unanswered goals and giving the road team a big advantage. The Leafs wouldn’t going away though and scored twice late in the frame capping off a six goal period and leaving the Leafs just one back. Toronto scored early in the third to tie the game setting up what this game is really remembered for, the shootout. The teams went back and forth for 10 rounds with the goalies standing tall. It was an unlikely hero for Winnipeg when Zach Bogosian came in and put a wrist shot bar down for the win, and also put the Jets into first place in the South East division.
4. Anaheim @ Winnipeg, April 20th, 2015
Don’t have to go far back in your memory for this one. The NHL playoffs returned to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996, and by the time game three rolled around it did not matter to Jets fans that they were down 2-0 in the series. Winnipeg had held third period leads in each of the first two games. Both slipped away and now Winnipeg returned home hoping the Whiteout would help them. It was one of the loudest crowds not only in Jets history, but in sports, only a few decibels behind a record set by the Seattle Seahawks’ fans. The team did their part as well, Lee Stempniak opened the scoring at the midway point of the first period and the MTS Centre exploded. The teams traded leads through much of the game, and then history repeated itself. The Jets led 4-3 in the final few minutes when Ryan Kesler found himself unchecked at the side of the Jets net and was able to jam in a great cross ice pass. The game would go to overtime and Rickard Rakell tipped in a shot from the blue line giving the Ducks a 5-4 win and pretty much wrapped up the series. Jets fans are still recovering but it is a game that will not be soon forgotten.
3. Montreal @ Winnipeg, October 9th, 2011
This game is certainly not remembered for the result or the Jets’ play, but the historic significance will be felt in Winnipeg for a long time. The Jets were gone for 15 years, and although the city got an IHL, and later AHL team, the void in the hearts of Winnipeg hockey fans was never quite filled. So once the NHL returned for the 2011-12 season, October 9th was the day the city looked forward to. Everyone came early and stayed late, unfortunately it was a bad result for the home team. The Canadiens started early, Mike Cammalleri intercepted a Johnny Oduya pass just minutes in and wired a shot top shelf and the Jets could never recover. Though they made the game close on a historic Nik Antropov goal minutes into the third that cut the lead to 2-1, the Canadiens answered and the final score had Montreal up 5-1. Winnipeg could not have been happier as a city however, it is not often a 5-1 home loss results in standing ovation at the end of the night, but it will be a night remembered forever in the Manitoba capital.
2. Winnipeg @ Philadelphia, October 27th, 2011
Just a couple of weeks after the number three game on our list, the Jets headed to Philadelphia for a match up with the Philadelphia Flyers. This was not a game with any special fanfare or big expectations going in, but due to the way the game was played it is one of the games most talked about by Jets fans to this day. It would take too long to really recap the whole game, so instead I’ll describe it in one word: goals. Four goals in the first period, six in the second, and a crazy seven-goal third period led the Jets to a 9-8 win. It was the highest scoring NHL game in 15 years and the furthest thing from pretty. Four goalies played, all pretty badly, and the Jets surrendered two four-goal leads. They did however, do enough to earn their first road win in franchise history.
Winnipeg gave up the first goal but quickly answered with three of their own to head to the intermission up 3-1. They got the next two as well to start the second before Philly answered back, making the score 6-4 heading to the third. Philadelphia finally took their first lead in the third, getting three straight and going ahead 7-6. The teams traded goals to tie the game at 8 with just a couple of minutes remaining. It was Jets captain Andrew Ladd who finally put the Jets ahead for good with just over a minute remaining. This game is hard to put in words so check out the video below, but if you’re like most Jets fans you’ve watched it at least a few times since that night.
1. Anaheim @ Winnipeg, December 17th, 2011
The second time Anaheim appears on this list, but this event was even bigger for Winnipeg then the playoffs were. It is rare a superstar can come into the MTS Centre and hear anything besides boos and the odd taunting chant. Teemu Selanne however was not just any superstar. Selanne is the most beloved athlete in Winnipeg sports history, and when the Jets schedule was released, this was the game everyone wanted to be at. Selanne was drafted in 1988 by the original Jets franchise, but it was not until the 1992-93 season that Winnipeg finally met their future hero. It was a historic first impression as well, Selanne scored 76 times and finished with 132 points in his first season, rookie records that may never be surpassed. Selanne meant more to Winnipeg than can be described in words, but if you watched the game that night, you had a sense of the bond between the city and this player. The crowd was packed and standing for warm up, and cheered and chanted “Teemu” the entire time. When the game started it got even louder, they chanted, they cheered, Selanne was the center of attention. Whenever he was on the ice the crowd cheered when he touched the puck, and booed when anyone else did. It was an unbelievable, surreal atmosphere. Selanne did his part as well, notching two assists and had numerous chances to pot a goal. The Jets played a great tribute video, but the real crescendo of the night came as the game ended. Selanne seemingly did not want to leave the ice as he waved and the crowd responded. There was one final surprise, Selanne was selected as the third star and got one more chance to say goodbye to the crowd that loved him so much. The Jets won the game that night 5-2, but the result really didn’t matter.