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Lightning sparks epic delay of game for Bombers and Eskimos in Winnipeg

A couple sits in the rain as a lightning delay stopped play between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday, June 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The first game of the regular season is normally an electric one for Canadian Football League (CFL) fans but it was concerns about lightning that resulted in a nearly three-hour delay for a season-opening tilt between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos in Manitoba’s capital on Thursday night.

READ MORE: ‘We have lots of weapons’: Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back on season opener

The weather concerns saw players vacate the field for an hour with 8:41 left to play in the second quarter and halftime was cancelled to make up for lost time. But Mother Nature was persistent with the lightning and play was suspended a second time.

Realizing it would be quite a late game because of what unfolded, the Bombers even tweeted an offer for “night owls” to come to the game for free at about 10:28 p.m. MT.

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“Night owls – feel like coming down to the stadium?” the tweet reads. “Free entry for the rest of the night, and there’s still a half of football left!”

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos open the CFL regular season Thursday night in Winnipeg

The Eskimos ended up winning the game 33-30 with Sean Whyte’s last-minute field goal. The game ended at 1:17 a.m. local time and became the longest continuous game and second-longest game overall in CFL history.

According to Environment Canada, a supercell moved passed through parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan on Thursday, creating unfavourable weather conditions at the game.

Forecasters warned of the potential for dangerous clusters of thunderstorms and parts of the two Prairie provinces were hammered by hail and rain while tornado warnings even popped up in some areas.

The storm resulted in power outages in some communities.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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