Winnipeg Gone Wild: Jets Win First Playoff Series in Franchise History

In case you (somehow) missed it, there was a hockey game in Winnipeg last night.

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In addition to being an opportunity for the Jets 2.0 to win their first playoff series in franchise history (and the first for a Winnipeg NHL team in 31 years), it was a Friday and the early spring weather was as nice as it’s been all year. It also happened to be 4/20.

One might say the conditions were perfect for an epic Winnipeg party. And party Winnipeg did. Epically.

It all began a few hours before puck drop, as thousands flocked downtown for the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party, which has been growing with each Jets home game.

After an estimated 9,000 people showed up in a space designed for 5,500 for Game 2, the event expanded to four blocks and added an alcohol-free zone for families, two more viewing screens, and more vendors for Game 5 on Friday.

Meanwhile, the whiteout was in full effect at Bell MTS Place, as 15,000 strong chanted “Go Jets Go” and belted out a “True North” that the fans in Minnesota probably heard.

From there, it only got louder. After Minnesota iced the puck off the opening faceoff, Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba scored at the 31-second mark to the set the stage for a good, old-fashioned beatdown.

A few minutes after Trouba’s goal, with much of the crowd still standing, Bryan Little made it 2-0 before Branden Tanev and Joel Armia scored 49 seconds apart. For you non-hockey fans, that’s a LOT of goals in 20 minutes of hockey.

Just ask the WINNIPEG sign at The Forks, which flashed red every time the Jets scored and got quite the first-period workout.

With no scoring in the second period, everyone got a chance to catch their breath and top off their drinks. There was also a special moment when the Jets paid tribute to Humboldt Bronco Matthieu Gomercic, who survived the fatal April 6 bus crash and attended the game.

As if the fans needed any more fuel, the Jets opened the third period with another quick goal from Mark Scheifele and the rest was history.

In traditional Winnipeg fashion, the whiteout crowd orchestrated some truly awesome chants, like WE WANT NASH-VILLE, BOOK YOUR TEE TIMES and HEY, HEY, HEY, GOOODBYEEE.

In the end, the Jets won 5-0 behind balanced scoring and the second consecutive shutout by Connor Hellebuyck. After receiving a Vezina trophy nomination for the NHL’s top goalie earlier in the week, it looks like he’s on a mission to win.

Connor Hellebuyck named as finalist for Vezina trophy!  #BuckyForVez

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So too are the Jets, who are now a quarter of the way to their first Stanley Cup and awaiting their second-round opponent.

Not to be outdone by the in-game celebrations, the after party took on a life of its own. Between ticket holders leaving the arena, fans leaving restaurants and the 15,000+ street-partygoers, Winnipeg police estimate more than 36,000 people were downtown following the win.

Inevitably, the rowdy crowd convened at Portage and Main, which was shut down for about 45 minutes. To make the celebration even more special, police reported there were no arrests and no reports of property damage.

As for the future of the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party?

“I’m looking at Round 4,” Kevin Donnelly, vice-president of True North Sports & Entertainment, told CBC.

Winnipeg can only hope. Go Jets Go!

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