The Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators combined to give fans in Newfoundland and Labrador a thrilling taste of NHL action on Monday for CBC's Kraft Hockeyville game.
In front of a packed house at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Jets forward Troy Bodie scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal and Winnipeg 2011 first-rounder Mark Scheifele scored as Winnipeg outduelled the Senators 3-1.
Ben Maxwell scored the third Winnipeg goal and Mika Zibanejad's third-period power-play marker was the lone goal the Sens could muster, but it was the atmosphere garnering the most attention.
Scheifele used the smaller arena size as a motivator, saying he could use it to his advantage.
"It kind of reminded me a little bit of a packed junior game," said the Jets' roster hopeful. "It was fun to play in St. John's."
Jets' goalie Ondrej Pavelec was solid in net, improving his pre-season record to 2-0 and making 24 saves in the winning effort. His counterpart, Alex Auld, played the first two periods and made 26 saves but gave way to backup Mike McKenna in the third period who stopped four of the five shots he faced.
Ottawa was outshot 36-28 overall.
The game was played in front of 6,275 hockey-mad fans who will get the opportunity to cheer for Winnipeg's AHL affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, this season after the Manitoba Moose made the move to the Rock earlier in the year. The city hasn't had a professional hockey team since the St. John's Maple Leafs relocated to Toronto in 2005.
Long-time Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster and St. John's native Bob Cole — whose name graces the Mile One Centre's media centre — was at the helm calling the action but the contest featured another connection to the Rock.
Senators forward Colin Greening is all-too-familiar with the hockey culture in Newfoundland — he grew up just minutes away from Mile One Centre — and admitted feelings of elation when he suited up for the contest in his home province.
"Hockey here is huge," the left winger said earlier on Monday. "I know sometimes you forget about Newfoundland because we're so far East and we have our own time zone, but hockey's big here. Everyone's born on skates.
"We're proud Canadians, so it's great to have Hockeyville here and to get another AHL team."
Conception Bay South won Kraft Hockeyville earlier this year and $100,000 in arena upgrades and the chance to host a NHL pre-season game, as well as a visit from Hockey Night in Canada personalities including Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, but the game had to be held in St. John's to accommodate the crowd.
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