Game Day Diary: Supporting The Chicago Blackhawks In Winnipeg

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My Christmas present came early this year, and I got tickets to see the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets, just a couple of hours from my home. Living in Manitoba, it was only the second time I had seen my Blackhawks play, and the first was an exhibition game. If you were ever wondering about following the Blackhawks on the road, let me be your tour guide: here’s what you can expect when you support Chicago in Winnipeg.

The Jets fans were out in full force, but I had a lone friend in red about halfway down the hallway. The ‘Hawks were represented well, with spatters of red almost everywhere. No “Go Hawks Go” chants were to be heard on this night, however.

Jets' fans milling around before the game.

Jets’ fans milling around before the game. courtesy: Skylar Peters

Winnipeg is home to the MTS Centre, a great arena in a great location. Although it’s right in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, traffic was barely an issue, and there were enclosed skywalks between both the hotel and the rink, as well as parking garages. The Shark Club lounge, attached to the arena via one of these said skywalks, is a two-time winner of Canada’s Bar of The Year, and it’s a popular spot to stop before the game (if you can get a seat). Once a nice meal was in me, we headed over to the rink to catch warmups.

According to some of the ushers at the game, the Blackhawks’ bring the most fans into the MTS Centre out of any other team, and they would not allow us to sit by the glass. Saddened, we fell back on our 200-level seats, offering a great view anyway. The MTS Centre is the smallest arena in the NHL, with a sold out crowd of 15,004 packing the arena. There is no bad spot in the building, and each end offers a great vantage point to watch the game, no matter if you’re right next to the glass or in the top row of the 300-level.

During the game, the food was delicious, in particular the 18-inch hotdog, named the “Jets Jumbo Dog”. At a hefty price of $10 Canadian, I had high expectations for such fine cuisine, and it didn’t dissapoint (It did take me a solid 15 minutes of game time to eat however).

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panoramic view of warmups at the MTS Centre. Courtesy: Skylar Peters

Thankfully for my family, tonight would belong to the Blackhawks, and Jonathan Toews would have a four-point night in his hometown. Despite the entire arena booing Patrick Kane every time he touched the puck, they were very appreciative of Toews’ effort, and he received a big round of applause when he was selected as the game’s First Star. Pictures like these were common, and the Jets fans in my section were certainly tired of my cheering by the sixth goal of the game.

Witnessing the Blackhawks on the road was a great experience. Now that I can cross that off my list, it’s time for me to head to the U.C. to catch a home game.  See you there, and Go ‘Hawks!

 

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