ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — NHL hockey returns to Minnesota this weekend. The lockout is over, the schedule is out and the fans are ready.
Die-hard fans showed up to Xcel Energy Center as early as Tuesday night waiting for their chance to get Wild single-game tickets that go on sale Wednesday morning. The Minnesota Wild open the season at 8 p.m. Saturday, hosting the Colorado Avalanche as the final game of Hockey Day Minnesota. More than 20 fans lined up overnight to claim their spot for tickets, and more than 100 fans were outside the ticket offices when sales started at 8 a.m.
Wednesday is big for the Wild team and its fans. The Hockey Lodge at Xcel Energy Center is selling Wild apparel for as much as 50 percent off, and the team is hosting an intrasquad scrimmage Wednesday night that’s free, but you do have to have a ticket.
That scrimmage, which is at 7 p.m., will also be televised on Fox Sports North. All fans in attendance will also receive a $10 concession voucher, and autographed jerseys will be given away throughout the game.
The Wild have three straight home games to start the season. Team officials said Saturday’s home opener sold out shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday.
We talked with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman Wednesday morning about hockey being back in Minnesota.
“It’s going to be an exciting season even though it’s a shortened season,” Coleman said. “We’ve got a great team that’s going to be on the ice and every game is going to matter. I’m excited for the businesses around the Xcel Center that have been struggling for the past few months.”
Coleman said businesses were definitely hit by the lockout. Restaurants couldn’t give their workers the normal shift allotment and couldn’t make any new hires.
“The businesses are totally dependent on the 40-plus nights of hockey they get,” Coleman said. “It was a tough fall for folks.”
The Wild will have 24 regular season home games and hopefully some home playoff games with the additions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
“I’m looking forward to a deep run in the playoffs,” Coleman said. “That would make up for some of the lost business.”