Despite the Winnipeg Jets advancing to the second round of the playoffs, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means the stands at Bell MTS Place remain empty, except for Winnipeg sports standby Dancing Gabe, Jets mascot Mick E. Moose, and… a dancing beer can?
Bud Light Seltzy, an anthropomorphic can of black cherry alcohol, was a notable presence on TV screens during the home team’s two overtime victories in games three and four of the first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers.
The man in the can is Ryan Giesbrecht, a Winnipegger who works in the fitness industry as his day job, but has also been involved with True North Sports and Entertainment for the past 14 years working on game day production and promotions.
“The opportunity came up from Bud Light Seltzer,” Giesbrecht told 680 CJOB, “and I got the request… and at first I was a little bit hesitant.
“I knew it would be fun jumping in the costume and being able to represent the fans right across Winnipeg, but I had no idea it was going to blow up right away.
“He’s been a bit of a hit.”
Giesbrecht said he’s spent a lot of time working with the team’s mascots, as well as kids participating in gameday/intermission elements over the past decade-and-a-half, so he’s used to attending games and not being ‘an average fan in the stands’ — but taking on the role of Seltzy was definitely a new way to enjoy a hockey game.
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“It’s a little bit tricky. Sitting at the bottom of the beer can is an interesting concept, and what appears to be me just sitting — me in my seat — is actually me pretty much curled up at the edge of it ready to celebrate the Jets’ next goal.
“With some of the restrictions that we had to work with, that was my seat for the game, when there was an opportunity to switch out the seats or even switch out the gloves, I was hesitant to make any changes just because the good luck and the superstition had to come with it.”
Giesbrecht said he could hardly see out of the costume, mostly just silhouettes of the players, but he could hear the sounds of the game, the players’ cheers on the ice in an empty arena, and he knew what to do when the team scored — including at the end of a marathon triple-overtime game that sent the Oilers packing.
“I wasn’t allowed to distract the players, I truly had to wait for those goals to start rolling in or those intermissions to be able to move around but as I had a chance to watch some of the highlights after, we incorporated more towel spins and some more energy to bring that costume to life.”
Although Giesbrecht hasn’t been given the go-ahead yet for Seltzy’s return in the second round of the playoffs, he’s already in training mode in case he gets the call.
“I’ve actually been practicing. I think if Jets fans had their way, Seltzy would definitely be back in the next round, but we’ll leave that up to Bud Light Seltzer and True North.”