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Heritage Hangover: Life after Winnipeg’s outdoor NHL game

Opening face off between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Sunday.
Opening face off between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Sunday. Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — As priceless as it is to see your favourite Winnipeg Jets, watching them at the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic cost a pretty penny.

“We had to feed the entire family,” said Kari Lacey. “That’s on top of hotels, tickets, jerseys and drinks.”

RELATED: Edmonton Oilers shut out Winnipeg Jets in Heritage Classic

Lacey drove in from The Pas for Sunday’s outdoor hockey game at Investors Group Field. She estimates her bill for the weekend will total $3,000.

“My mom teases me because she thinks I’m crazy,” said Lacey. “I’d go to hockey before a hot spot.”

Fans like Lacey snapped up sweaters at stores across Winnipeg. Uptown Sports said sales jumped 40 per cent thanks to the Heritage Classic.

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“It was Black Friday type numbers, which is one of the busiest weekends of the year,” said owner Rick Lefort.

The only complaint about the weekend was the final result.

“It sucks that the Jets lost,” said Winnipegger Erik Swar. “That was unfortunate.”

The odds were actually stacked against the Jets in the Heritage Classic. Of the 19 regular-season outdoor NHL games ever played, the visitors have now won 14. The home side will never admit it but the buildup can certainly be distracting.

“It was a little different of a situation but we had the same mindset going into that as we do any other game,” said Jets defenceman Tyler Myers.

RELATED: Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg Jets celebrate win in Heritage Classic Alumni Game

With life returning to normal for players, the team isn’t worried about a heritage hangover.

“We’re going to play so much hockey, even if there is one, it won’t last long,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

TRUE NORTH THANKS

The owner of the Jets, Mark Chipman, thanked fans via a statement on Monday for supporting the Heritage Classic.

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“Whether you were at the games, watching on a big screen at a local restaurant or hosting a Heritage Classic party at home, Winnipeg once again clearly demonstrated why it has the most passionate hockey fans in the world,” said Chipman. “The 2016 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic was truly a once in a lifetime hockey experience for generations of fans. We could not have done it without your support.”

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