October 23, 2011
Sizzling hot sports city
By Ted Wyman, QMI Agency
It was a date many fans circled on their calendars the minute the NHL schedule came out in June and it’s a day thousands will remember for years to come.
It was an opportunity that was just too good to pass up for many Winnipeg sports fans — a chance to watch the city’s two most prominent sports franchises in action, back-to-back — and by the end of the day it was a chance to celebrate important come-from-behind wins by both teams.
“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday in the fall,” said fan Grant Paul.
Paul is one of the lucky few Winnipeggers who had a chance to double dip on Saturday, attending both the Blue Bombers epic comeback win over the Montreal Alouettes in the afternoon and the Winnipeg 5-3 defeat of the Carolina Hurricanes in the evening.
Paul and many of the other fans who wore their Jets colours to the Bombers game recognized it was a rare occasion.
“It’s something we had on the calendar to look forward to that hasn’t happened in a long time,” Paul said.
“It’s big for the city. You can feel the energy. You see Jets jerseys around at the Bombers game and I’m sure there will be Bombers jerseys at the Jets game as well.”
Indeed there were, Grant. Plenty of them.
It has been 20 years since the Bombers and Jets played back-to-back games on the same day.
In Saturday’s column we suggested the last time was on Oct. 19, 1991 when the Bombers hammered the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 68-14 and the Jets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.
E-mailer Kevin Leochko pointed out correctly that the last Jets-Bombers doubleheader was actually on Nov. 3, 1991 when the Bombers lost to the Edmonton Eskimos in the afternoon and the Jets tied the St. Louis Blues in the evening.
He has a good reason for remembering.
“I recall the games as it was the last time I went with my friend,” Leochko wrote. “I told him I would get the tickets the next time. It took almost 20 years to get the chance to pay him back on Saturday.”
Bombers season ticket holders Reney Thomas and his grandson Chris Fontaine of Traverse Bay were wearing their navy blue Jets jerseys in the stands at Canad Inns Stadium, already anticipating attending their first regular-season NHL game later in the day.
“This is the first year for Bombers season tickets because we wanted to get good seats for the new stadium,” Thomas said. “It worked out pretty well that there’s a Jets game today as well. I’m excited, especially since I’m with my grandson.”
Cory Noel, originally from Pinawa, but now working in radio in Olds, Alta., made the 13-hour drive to be in Winnipeg for the big day.
He and his buddies attended the Bombers game and then were planning to make their way down to 4Play Sports Bar to catch the Jets game on TV.
“Jets tickets aren’t in the budget but we just wanted the atmosphere,” Noel said. “It’s great to be home for this. Great ’90s memories.”
Obviously this was something that could not have happened for the last 15 years, with the Jets playing in Phoenix and all.
But Saturday’s festivities were yet another indication that Winnipeg is a sizzling hot sports city.
More than 30,000 fans attended the Bombers game, a full house of 15,004 was in the MTS Centre.
All of them were leather-lunged supporters who are showing the country their passion on national TV.
The Bombers nearly made enough mistakes to let the faithful down but wound up rewarding them with a stirring fourth-quarter comeback that gave them first-place in the East Division for the time being.
The Jets played their best game of the season, spotting the Hurricanes two goals early but roaring back for a convincing win.
Both teams have a long way to go, but it’s pretty easy for Winnipeg sports fans to feel good about themselves this morning.