Manitoba players get chills from wild crowd

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Manitoba Moose goalie Wade Flaherty called it one of the loudest buildings he's ever played in. Forward Ryan Kesler says it gave him chills.

Welcome to playoff hockey in Winnipeg, fellas.

Friday night's sellout crowd of 15,015 helped the Moose dominate the Rochester Americans by a 5-2 count, ending their second-round, AHL playoff series in five games.

"That reminded me of my San Jose days in the (NHL) playoffs, it was that loud," Flaherty, a 16-year pro, said after the game. "That is the loudest building I've been in in many, many years. It was fantastic. And once we got the momentum going, that crowd got going, holy cow -- this could be a very interesting place for visiting teams to come into, with the crowd behind us like that."

The Moose filled both levels of the new, downtown facility with an unprecedented run on tickets over the 48 hours prior to the game, selling as many as 700 per hour on Thursday.

And the roar from the fans during the anthem and for every big play was reminiscent of playoff crowds for Winnipeg Jets games in years past.

"I guess you could say we kind of woke up this city," Kesler said.

"I got chills going on the ice. It was a special feeling. When they get loud enough, you can't even hear yourself out there. That just kind of topped it off at the end, getting the standing ovation. Not too many teams in the league can say they've sold out a 15,000-seat arena. That just tells you how good Winnipeg fans are."

Kesler and Flaherty admitted they were a bit surprised at the response, this early in the playoffs.

"I didn't think we'd get this until maybe next round, or even the round after," Kesler said. "It just shows how much Winnipeggers love hockey."

Then again, this is puck country, Flaherty pointed out.

"It's Canada, and it's hockey," the goalie said.

It raises interesting possibilities for the next round, especially with the hated Chicago Wolves on the agenda.


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