Enthusiastic Winnipeg Jets fans don’t quite fill the stands for first regular-season home game since pre-pandemic – .

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Enthusiastic Winnipeg Jets fans don’t quite fill the stands for first regular-season home game since pre-pandemic – .


Thousands of people showed up at the Canada Life Center on Thursday to watch the Jets take on the Ducks in the first regular-season home game in front of Winnipeg fans in 591 days.
The team played in front of a few hundred fully vaccinated healthcare workers in Winnipeg during the playoffs in June, but Thursday night’s tilt to Anaheim was the first regular-season game with fans since before the pandemic.

All spectators and staff had to prove that they had been doubly vaccinated before entering the arena.

“I feel excited, I smell the Jets,” said Vanden Sanclemente, 9, who wore a Jets jersey as he made his way to the arena.

A total of 13,886 people attended the live action, just over 1,400 below capacity. This is the first time a home opener has not sold out since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011.

9-year-old Vanden Sanclemente was eager to see the team back on the ice. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Bray Mullin and Allona Hadden were happy to be back. The couple are season ticket holders and brought their four-month-old daughter, Stevie, to her first game wearing a Jets mini jersey.

“I can’t wait to find the people and the atmosphere, to cheer and come back to being in person,” Hadden said before the game.

Allona Hadden, left, and Bray Mullin, right, brought their four-month-old baby, Stevie, to her Jets first game on Thursday. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

The Jets were deprived of two-thirds of their front row, with captain Blake Wheeler and center Mark Scheifele missing due to being placed under the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Wheeler tested positive earlier this week; Scheifele tested positive on Tuesday but is asymptomatic.

Mike Daoust said he expected a big win and the crowd to go wild. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Mike Daoust said that even though these two weren’t in the lineup, he was confident the team would beat the Ducks.

“It’s been a long time, so it’s fantastic to be here and we’re happy to cheer on our Jets, even with COVID protocol players,” Daoust said.

Shayne Kakegamic was convinced that Kyle Connor would help fill the void left by Wheeler and Scheifele, and he was right. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Shayne Kakegamic was particularly confident that a player would take over.

“They’re going to fix it, they’re going to figure it out, they still have Connor, he’s a pure goalscorer so he’s going to do it,” Kakegamic said.

And he was right. The absence of Wheeler and Scheifele ultimately didn’t matter thanks in part to Jets forward Kyle Connor’s two goals. This helped the team (1-2-1) clinch their first victory of the season with a final score of 5-1 against the Ducks.

The Jets face the Nashville Predators at the Canada Life Center on Saturday.

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