Winnipeg 'Whiteout' becomes avalanche of playoff excitement
Jets fans erupt after 19 years without post-season hockey
All the Winnipeg Jets' players had to do to get the juices going for Game 3 of their Western Conference series with the Anaheim Ducks Monday night was take a step outside the dressing room and listen.
Nearly two decades of pent-up playoff excitement was unleashed inside the MTS Centre, which sounded more like an avalanche than a whiteout.
Tickets for the first playoff game in Winnipeg since 1996 sold out in five minutes, and the fans who had spent nearly two decades watching from the sidelines wanted to let the hockey world know they were back.
Winnipeg has shown what <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MyPlayoffsMoment?src=hash">#MyPlayoffsMoment</a> is all about. <a href="https://t.co/1sELLzjRKu">https://t.co/1sELLzjRKu</a>—@NHL
Perhaps the loudest moment was during the singing of the Canadian national anthem. Jets fans normally accent the words "true north" in honour of the team's ownership group, but this time they added even more enthusiasm.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TrueNorth?src=hash">#TrueNorth</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoJetsGo?src=hash">#GoJetsGo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGWhiteout?src=hash">#WPGWhiteout</a> <a href="http://t.co/IeQqzCv1ky">pic.twitter.com/IeQqzCv1ky</a>—@NHLJets
Fans continued cheering well after the puck was dropped, and the place nearly blew up after Lee Stempniak scored the first playoff goal in Winnipeg since Norm Maciver's in April 1996.
Stempniak put the Jets out to a 1-0 lead at 9:38 of the first period, and the sound that rang out resembled the rumble of a jumbo jet.
A <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash">#StanleyCup</a> Playoff goal 19 years in the making. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ANAvsWPG?src=hash">#ANAvsWPG</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGWhiteout?src=hash">#WPGWhiteout</a> <a href="https://t.co/kHCB2zQOjM">https://t.co/kHCB2zQOjM</a>—@NHL
The record for the loudest sporting event was set last September by nearly 80,000 spectators at the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium. Guinness World Records acknowledged the crowd noise reached 142.2 dbA.
Following Stempniak's tally, the Winnipeg crowd reached 124 dbA. A sizeable gap from the record, but impressive considering there were 65,000 fewer fans in attendance.
An intimidating atmosphere for visiting Ducks fans, to be sure. A hometown Jets supporter even caught some nesting in the safe confines of a private box.
Ducks fans need to shell out for a box to feel safe in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGwhiteout?src=hash">#WPGwhiteout</a> <a href="http://t.co/q9ZsHVKaqe">pic.twitter.com/q9ZsHVKaqe</a>—@DavidBodnarchuk
In the dying moments of the first period the Ducks would suck the life out of the MTS Centre as defenceman Cam Fowler beat Ondrej Pavelec with just seven seconds left to play to hush the chorus of white noise.
The Ducks would build off the momentum early in the second period, with Corey Perry shovelling in a pass from Hampus Lindholm just 3:08 into the period to take a 2-1 lead, further silencing the crowd.
The Jets would respond with three goals in the period, capped by Bryan Little's first of the playoffs to regain the 4-3 lead.
However, the Jets have struggled to hold a lead in the third period in this series, and Monday night was no different. With just 2:14 left to play in Game 3, and chants of "Go Jets Go," raining down on the Winnipeg players, Anaheim struck late again.
This time it was Jakob Silfverberg setting up Ryan Kesler for the game-tying goal, and delivering a punch to the gut of each and every Winnipeg fan sitting in the sold out stands.
Ryan Kesler quiets the crowd like you've never seen before. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ANAvsWPG?src=hash">#ANAvsWPG</a> is headed to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLOT?src=hash">#NHLOT</a>, and it's gonna be great. <a href="https://t.co/mk1OtSxPLQ">https://t.co/mk1OtSxPLQ</a>—@NHL
For the third straight game, Winnipeg blew a third-period lead and in the process became the first team in NHL history to lose the first three games of a series when leading at the second intermission each time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
However, the spirit of the "Whiteout" crowd would not waver.
With the overtime period set to begin, fans continued to belt out nervous noise, and chances at both ends of the ice sent fans on a roller-coaster ride of emotion.
But the playoff-crazed fans were ultimately silenced, as Rickard Rakell deflected in the game-winning goal.
The comeback kids do it again. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ANAvsWPG?src=hash">#ANAvsWPG</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash">#StanleyCup</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLOT?src=hash">#NHLOT</a> <a href="https://t.co/buddX6M8H6">https://t.co/buddX6M8H6</a>—@NHL
Winnipeg fans will have at least one more opportunity to see their team win a playoff game on home ice. The Jets face a must-win scenario when they host the Ducks for Game 4 on Wednesday.
Well done Winnipeg. Incredible atmosphere. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPGWhiteout?src=hash">#WPGWhiteout</a>. Tomorrow is another day, but right now <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/heartbreaking?src=hash">#heartbreaking</a> <a href="http://t.co/YEV0SxzhKm">pic.twitter.com/YEV0SxzhKm</a>—@BrantDHarvey