Winnipeg Jets fans take in historic playoff game in Anaheim
Blue and white jerseys stand out in sea of orange Ducks shirts at Honda Center
It's been 19 years in the making, but on Thursday night the Winnipeg Jets were once again in the Stanley Cup playoffs, facing off against the Ducks in Anaheim.
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Despite the overwhelming sea of Ducks orange, thanks mainly to the complimentary team shirts that were handed out at the door, there was a smattering of blue and white thanks to diehard Jets fans who made the trip to California for the game.
But some, like 16-year-old Noah Logan, didn't have to travel too far. The Orange County teen grew up in Atlanta and followed the Thrashers. But when the team moved to Winnipeg, he stayed true blue, despite now living in the home of the Ducks.
"I get a lot of heat from my friends, but I love it," he said. "The [Winnipeg] fans are crazy! I hope to one day go to a game in Winnipeg."
In 2007, Gill said, "A lot of Anaheim fans had never heard of the Winnipeg Jets. They looked at my [Jets] jersey and were like, 'What is that?' Now, of course, it's a little different!"
Meanwhile, husband and wife Buzz Pedersen and Rhonda Diamond from Kenora, Ont., said they made the trip because it's important to cheer on their team.
"There was no way we could not come here. All the stars aligned," Pedersen said. "It was Thursday, Saturday [games]. It's direct flights from Winnipeg and it's cheaper than home!"
The Honda Center was packed with a sellout crowd of 17,179. It's estimated that at least 1,000 or more of those seats had Jets fans in them.
"This is so exciting! I've been waiting for this ever since I moved to L.A.," said Jenny Stitz, a former Winnipegger who has been living in Los Angeles for eight years.
Despite the crushing 4-2 loss against the Ducks, Mike Daciw says just being in the playoffs instills a sense of civic pride in people.
"Before we had a NHL franchise, but now we have a real team that has a shot at making it in the Western Conference final. That's huge," he said.
The CBC's Mitch Peacock and Brett Purdy, as well as freelancer Karen Rocznik, are tweeting from Anaheim this week, along with reporters in Winnipeg. Check out the live blog below for their latest updates.