ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The Minnesota Wild hosted a viewing party for fans to watch their team take on the Winnipeg Jets, even though the game is nearly 500 miles away.
Hockey fans flocked to the Xcel Energy Center for Game 2 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Instead of a puck, it was the gigantic video screen that dropped at center ice.
“It’s a bigger screen than we have at home, snow storm outside - why not come on out?” said Andy Willenburg, a Wild fan.
The team says it’s a chance for people who don't usually get to come to a Wild game... to experience the atmosphere at the X -- all free of charge.
“I'm a nervous wreck when I'm home watching the Wild on TV,” said Wayne Petersen, the director of marketing for the Minnesota Wild. “So, I’m happy actually to be here watching the game with other Wild fans. If we win we'll cheer together. If we lose, which I don't think we will, we'll deal with that together too.”
In addition to watching the game on the screen that extends from one blue line to the other, fans signed a banner for the victims of the Canadian hockey bus crash, which was shown during the game broadcast north of the border.
“I know that there are players who are still in the hospital and those who have been released are watching the game at the hospital,” said Petersen. “So we're hoping to send a message from St. Paul to Saskatoon, that we're thinking of them.”
The Wild fell to the Jets 4-1, which puts them down 0-2 in the series. However, fans say they remain hopeful.
“I'm just glad we don't have to play Chicago,” said Willenburg. “They always seem to be our thorn. They are not here this year. This may be our year.”