10/09/2011 03:07 EDT | Updated 12/09/2011 05:12 EST

Winnipeg Fans Eagerly Await Jets Home Opener


Winnipeg hockey fans are celebrating the return of a hometown NHL team, as the Jets prepare for their home opening game.

The Jets will open the season as Winnipeg's first NHL team in 15 years on Sunday afternoon, when they host the Montreal Canadiens.

The puck drops at Winnipeg's MTS Centre at 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET). The game is being broadcast on CBC-TV and livestreamed on

Fans clad in Jets jerseys, sweaters and hats began flocking to downtown Winnipeg hours before the landmark game.

A total of about 15,000 people are expected to pack the MTS Centre for Sunday's sold-out home opener, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who purchased four tickets to the event.

The Jets sold out its 13,000 season tickets in just 17 minutes, and has already sold out its allotted tickets for the next three years.

Those who don't have tickets can go to The Forks, an historic site and popular downtown gathering place, to see live bands and other entertainers at the CBC Family FanZone party.

Fans can watch the Winnipeg-Montreal match on large video screens that have been set up at The Forks gathering, which runs until 8 p.m.

'Tingly happiness'

Former Jets player Thomas Steen, who played 14 seasons with Winnipeg before the team was transferred to Phoenix, said he is looking forward to being at Sunday's home opener.

"When I played Montreal, there were more Montreal fans in the building than the Jets fans. This time, tickets are all sold to Jets fans, [so] it's going to be different," Steen said with a chuckle.

"I got butterflies all inside me … tingly happiness over having the team back," he added.

Winnipeg police have already busted a number of people for scalping tickets. It is illegal to sell tickets for above face value, but it has not stopped some people from trying.

Scalpers face a captive market: many Winnipeggers have been doing what they can to score access to Sunday's home game.

Charlie Spiring, vice-chairman of National Bank, said he has received many requests for seats in the company's luxury box at the MTS Centre.

"Even Mom wanted a ticket and it's not going to work out, so Christmas will be a long, cold night and I might be getting coal in my stocking," Spiring joked.

"Those that aren't there with tickets are feeling left out, so people are calling old friends, bribing," he added. "I think people in Winnipeg are not beyond doing anything to get tickets to that event."

Newlyweds heading to game

Winnipeggers Rachel Borkowsky and Gabe Wu are attending Sunday's game in style, immediately after their wedding ceremony.

The newlyweds are heading to the MTS Centre in a limousine, with Borkowsky still wearing her wedding dress.

"It's like two dreams coming true: getting married and getting to go to the first Jets game again," Wu said.

Borkowsky said they have spent months preparing for the wedding, but they realized there would be a timing conflict between their wedding — originally slated for 4 p.m. — and the start of the Jets game.

"I thought, 'Oh no, we won't have any groomsmen; we might not have a groom,'" Borkowsky joked.

"We just talked about how epic getting married is, and how epic that the Jets are back," she said. "It'll just be so crazy — like, all the crowd cheering and everything. We're just so excited to see the puck drop."

The Return Of The Winnipeg Jets