The Winnipeg Jets had a disappointing season, finishing sixth in the Central Division and well out of the playoff picture in a season many thought the team would be a Stanley Cup contender.
However, they still did win 39 games, with some notable for being strong team efforts, others notable for featuring an outstanding individual performance, and still others notable for their timeliness.
In this piece, we’ll take a list of the Jets’ top 5 games of 2021-22.
5) Jets Sent Beyak Off in Style with Comeback Versus Kraken — May 1, 2022
The game didn’t mean anything in the standings to either team, but the game sent announcer Dennis Beyak off in style.
Beyak, the TSN play-by-play man for the Jets since they relocated from Atlanta prior to the 2011-2012 season, announced in late April that he was putting down the mic. That led to much praise from the hockey world on his storied, 50-plus year broadcasting career.
In what was the NHL’s last game of the regular season — the game was rescheduled from April 13 due to a historic spring snowstorm that crippled the Prairies — the Jets found themselves behind 3-1 to the Seattle Kraken after two periods.
But in the third period, the Jets stormed back and gave Beyak a chance to use his trademark “bang-bang” catchphrase — used when the Jets score twice in quick succession — one more time.
Blake Wheeler scored at 4:49 to get the Jets within one, with Paul Stastny recording his 800th-career point with the assists. At 7:16, Dominic Toninato scored to tie the game and bring forth the “bang bang.”
1:49 after Toninato’s goal, Kyle Connor scored to give the Jets a 4-3 lea , and they hung on the rest of the way to ensure Beyak got depart the booth on a win.
Beyak addressed the fans on the video board after the game, thanking his wife Bev, the TSN broadcasting crew, the True North organization, and the fans and viewers.
“Coming back here and being able to finish (my career) was absolutely special,” said Beyak, who is from Winnipegosis, Manitoba. “The fans, the viewers, without you, this game is nothing.” Beyak was named the game’s first star;
Prior to puck drop, he spoke to the team in the dressing room, reading the starting lineup. “You guys have provided a lot of entertainment, a lot of great calls over the years,” he told them before he did so, saying he was glad to see young players burgeon into stars over a decade-plus.
Beyak isn’t completely retiring, as he will remain a part of TSN’s international hockey coverage. Expect to hear his voice this August at the rescheduled 2021 World Junior Championships.
4) Jets Exercise Will Over Blackhawks, Frustrate Fleury — Nov. 5, 2021
This game came during the fleeting stretch where it seemed the Jets may be one of the league’s top teams.
The Jets lost their first three games of the season but had gotten on 5-0-1 roll by the time the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks came to Canada Life Centre for the first time since before COVID.
The Jets later made a nasty habit in 2021-22 of playing down to inferior opponents, but in this case, exercised their will over a much less talented team.
Paul Stastny and Neal Pionk scored within the first 2:23 to get the team off to a flying start. In the second, Dominic Toninato and Kyle Connor scored 1:29 apart to give a commanding lead.
Early in the third, Mackenzie Entwistle scored a shorthanded goal to break Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout bid, but the Jets didn’t surrender anything more; Nikolaj Ehlers capped the festivities with a wonderful goal despite entering the offensive zone surrounded by three Blackhawks defenders.
It was surely cathartic for some Jets fans to see five pucks past a visibly-frustrated Marc-Andre Fleury; the veteran goaltender had flummoxed them in the 2018 Western Conference Final.
“Best Jets 2.0 squad in its decade-long history?” The Winnipeg Free Press’ Jason Bell wrote the next day (that question sure aged like milk.)
“Winnipeg’s NHL entry looked solid on paper prior to the start of the 2021-22 season and has substantiated the claims with some tremendous early returns.” (From ‘Copp’s 3 points power Jets past Blackhawks 5-1,’ Winnipeg Free Press, Nov. 6, 2021.)
With the win, the Jets improved to 6-2-2 and earned 14 points in its first 10 games, its best season-opening 10-game stretch since the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 2011.
3) Comrie Steals the Show; Jets Snap Losing Streak in St. Louis — Jan. 29, 2022
After not seeing a single minute between the pipes for six weeks, Eric Comrie dusted himself off and willed his struggling team to victory against the St. Louis Blues.
Making his first start since Dec. 10 — after watching the run-ragged Connor Hellebuyck start 13 straight and struggle mightily — Comrie made 28 saves, many of the 10-bell variety.
The only puck to get behind the goaltender was a first-period power play goal by Vladimir Tarasenko 6:08 in. He was perfect the rest of the way as the Jets scored four straight; a pair from Paul Stastny to open and close the scoring, and one each from Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt in the second period.
The victory was an important one as it snapped the Jets’ six-game losing streak and came after back-to-back, defensively deficient efforts at home against the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks.
The strong performance was also the beginning of a five-start winning streak for Comrie. Overall this season, he was woefully underused and the Jets paid a large price for making their goaltenders’ work loads so imbalanced.
2) Jets Soar Over Slumping Golden Knights — March 15, 2022
This thrilling victory pulled the Jets within two points of a Western Conference Wild Card spot as they took a team they were chasing to task.
Big defenseman Logan Stanley was an unlikely star, chucking knuckles with Keegan Kolesar in the first period before tallying an assist on Kyle Connor’s first-period goal and scoring a beauty of his own in the second period for a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Stanley’s goal — which made the score 4-1 — chased former Jets backup Laurent Brossoit from the Knights’ crease. Brossoit made the start with Robin Lehner injured and got warm reception during a video tribute, but otherwise did not enjoy his evening, allowing four goals on 13 shots.
The Jets were up 5-1 by the end of the second, but the Golden Knights back into the game with back-to-back third-period goals to make the score 5-3. However, Josh Morrissey and Adam Lowry scored to restore the four-goal lead and make the final 7-3.
Funnily enough, the Jets actually got a “Bronx Cheer” in the first period of the game they ended up dominating. It took them 12 minutes and 26 seconds to register their first shot on goal, and when Dylan DeMelo took a routine wrist shot from the blue line, the crowd showed their mock appreciation.
Wheeler shot back at the fans during a first-intermission interview, which he was raked over the coals for on social media.
1) Jets Double Up Maple Leafs; Winnipeggers Revel in Two Victories; Logan Stanley Creates a Meme — Dec. 9, 2021
While Logan Stanley didn’t play very strong defence in 2021-22, he sure was involved in some memorable moments, wasn’t he? Here he is again, going viral for scrapping with an irate Wayne Simmonds and firing up the crowd with a “victory V” in the final minute of a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the Jets’ locker-room “helmet presentation” after the game — when given the aviator’s helmet by Mark Scheifele — Stanley exclaimed “let’s go get F— up!” The Jets’ social media team retconned that in captions to “let’s go have fun and be responsible!” (Shirts and merch bearing that cleaned-up tagline appeared in the Jets’ store soon after.)
Not everyone was being completely responsible that Sunday. Many fans, decked out in Winnipeg Blue Bombers jerseys had come directly from IG Field, where they’d just watched their Canadian Football League team defeat arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders 21-17 in the West Final to advance to the Grey Cup. The CFL game was moved forward and the NHL game was moved back to allow fans to attend both.
This writer can attest the rink was rocking as many already well-lubricated fans arrived downtown a celebratory mood, a mood that was only heightened as the Jets’ suddenly dizzying offence put a half-dozen — including three on the man advantage — past Joseph Woll.
Making the atmosphere even better was the rivalry between the home fans and the many Maple Leafs supporters dotted through Canada Life Centre. There were even a couple of “Go Jets Go” / “Go Leafs Go” chant duels.
Before Stanley whipped fans into a frenzy, fans enjoyed a pre-game ceremony commemorating Blake Wheeler’s 1000th-career NHL game and a video tribute that featured Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Bryan Little.
“Today was just a good hockey game, right? It had a little bit of everything in it. There was some energy and emotion, as there should be,” then head coach Paul Maurice said. “Toronto for sure would be a rivalry as we played them 10 times last year… this game had some leftover from games past. It got a little heated out there, but that’s good.”
Which game of these five did you find the most exciting? Were there any others games not on our list that stick out in your mind? Comment below!
Declan Schroeder is a 27-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.