By Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
From the moment the gates opened on Saturday night, the vibe at Xcel Energy Center was a little different than usual.
Can a pre-season hockey game have a “vibe,” you ask?
It can when the Winnipeg Jets are in town.
Thanks to NHL realignment, the Minnesota Wild find themselves in the same division as their neighbors to the north. And if Saturday’s game is any indication, the contests between the two will be intense all season long.
It started with a quick glance at the main entrance to the X. Yes, there were more Iron Range red and green sweaters than their were blue and white, but not by much.
Once in the arena, it was clear that Jets fans travel in groups, as there were significant clusters of them occupying the end of the arena opposite the new “Budweiser Lounge.”
It continued during the playing of the Canadian anthem, when a loud chant broke out over the lyrics “True North,” and one couldn’t help by notice louder cheers for “O Canada” than for the “Star Spangled Banner.”
And it was driven home with the first raucous “Go Jets Go” chant during the first period, Wild fans, seemingly taken aback by the Canadian invasion, were only able to muster some loud boos.
(A few “Let’s Go Wild” chants were attempted, but never rose to the level of the “Go Jets Go” crowd.)
Asked about the incursion after the game, Wild forward Zach Parise says he was surprised.