Fans of the Winnipeg Jets are anxiously awaiting Saturday's season opener against the Ottawa Senators, marking the start of a lockout-shortened NHL season.
The Jets will be greeted by ecstatic fans at the MTS Centre for Saturday afternoon's match against the Ottawa Senators.
Those who can't attend the game in person — game-day tickets sold out on Friday — can watch it on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada at 2 p.m. CT. It will be the first of three all-Canadian matches on Saturday.
"Can't even explain it. Can't put it to words," said Rochelle Dressler, who was stocking up on fan merchandise at the Jets store on Friday.
"The first game I went to, I think I even had tears in my eyes," she added with a laugh.
NHL players are returning to the ice on Saturday, following a 113-day lockout that pitted the league against its players and threatened to wipe out the whole season.
Jason Ancelin, who will be watching the game from home, said despite the lockout, he doesn't think the city's love affair with the Jets has ended.
"Oh, the honeymoon is still going, for sure," he said.
"Once I found out hockey is back, every Facebook status you could imagine was, 'Go Jets Go, we're back.'"
Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler said he can't wait to get going in front of a hometown crowd.
"Being able to start at home in front of these fans … it's going to be a great atmosphere," he said.
Events happening downtown
Many restaurants, bars and event venues in downtown Winnipeg, where the MTS Centre is located, are hosting special events for fans before and after Saturday's game.
"I think fans should definitely support local businesses, the local economy, and add to the growing spririt of our city," said Jason Syvixay, a spokesman for the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.
Even those who don't have tickets to the big game can still enjoy it downtown, Syvixay said.
"The newest one that we're trying to get people to go to is the new Metropolitan Theatre. They have … a giant 35- by 26-foot video screen," he said.
"So you can go there, if you don't have a ticket, you could throw on your jersey and grab a seat there."
CBC Manitoba is hosting a "Fan Zone" at the Metropolitan, where fans can pick up free Hockey Night in Canada thunder sticks.
Doors to the Metropolitan event open at 9 a.m.
A full list of events happening before and after the game can be found on the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's "Downtown Peggy" website.