2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg

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Jackson Events was proud to be a part of the recent Winnipeg Heritage Classic, which took place in the form of a variety of events over 3 days from Friday, October 21st through Sunday, October 23rd.  The Winnipeg Heritage Classic featured 2 outdoor hockey games at Investors Group Field, a 40 000 seat stadium that both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, and the University of Manitoba Bisons football team call home.  Several hockey legends from both the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers were in town for an action packed weekend that included the NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game and the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Game.

In addition, the weekend’s festivities also consisted of a Gala Dinner and a NHL VIP Party.  Twenty-six former Winnipeg Jets greats were in town for the Winnipeg Heritage Classic.  These players included Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne, Thomas Steen, Dave Ellett, Bob Essensa, Teppo Numminen, Kris King and Ron Wilson.  The Winnipeg Jets Alumni team was coached by Tom McVie and Serge Savard.  Twenty-four Edmonton Oilers legends were also in town for the Winnipeg Heritage Classic.  Oilers greats in attendance included Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Bill Ranford, Dwayne Roloson, Glenn Anderson, Craig MacTavish and Ryan Smyth.  The Oilers Alumni Team would be coached by Glen Sather, John Muckler and Ron Low.  Winnipeg Jets fans also got the opportunity to watch their old greats practice at the MTS Centre on the morning of Friday, October 21st, which would see thousands of fans show up to watch their beloved vintage Jet take part in a light hearted skate.  That evening, the current edition of the Jets, the Jets Alumni and Edmonton Oilers legends would formally kick off the Winnipeg Heritage Classic weekend by attending the 4th Annual Winnipeg Jets Gala Dinner.  The dinner, which was put on by True North Youth Foundation and presented by Scotiabank, was held at the RBC Convention Centre.  This year’s Winnipeg Jets Gala Dinner was hosted by Ron MacLean and had over 2000 people in attendance.  Participants had the opportunity to enjoy a fabulous meal while listening to a speech from True North Sports and Entertainment and Winnipeg Jets chairman Mark Chipman.  Those in attendance included both current and former Winnipeg Jets players, several Edmonton Oiler alumni players and representatives from a variety of Winnipeg area organizations.  The Winnipeg Heritage Classic Gala Dinner was held to support Manitoba Youth.  The Gala Dinner raised over $685 000 for underprivileged children throughout Manitoba.  The Winnipeg Heritage Classic Gala Dinner also featured an excellent silent auction, live music being played by Big City All Star Band, several presentations updating the audience on how a wide variety of charities are doing throughout Winnipeg and Manitoba and a Hot Stove hosted by Ron MacLean.  The Winnipeg Heritage Classic Gala Dinner Hot Stove featured former Winnipeg Jets greats Dale Hawerchuk and Teemu Selanne and Edmonton Oiler legends Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.  The Gala Dinner audience listened in awe as these hockey legends shared stories about their respective Hall of Fame careers.

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The festivities would carry over to the next day, with the Winnipeg Heritage Classic Alumni Game being played at Investors Group Field. After an introduction that generated a mix of reactions from the crowd, the Alumni Game got underway.  It didn’t take long for the scoring to begin.  Just under 5 minutes into the first period, Teemu Selanne would be successful at a penalty shot attempt to open scoring.  A short time later, Kris King scored, thanks to a great set up by Selanne.  With just over 6 minutes to go in the first, Mark Messier would convert on a great pass from Glenn Anderson to score the Oilers’ first goal of the game.  In the final minute of the 1st period, Winnipeg would score to extend their lead to 4-1.  In the first intermission, fans had the opportunity to listen to some great music during a live performance by legendary musician and Manitoba native Tom Cochrane.  After Cochrane’s well-received performance, the Heritage Game would resume.  Seven minutes into the 2nd period, Craig Simpson would cut down the Jets lead to 4-2 by scoring on a penalty shot.  The Oilers would continue their comeback later in the period with Messier putting the puck in the top right corner of Winnipeg’s net, making the score 4-3.  The Oilers would tie the game at 4 on a Craig MacTavish goal with around 2 minutes left in the 2nd period. The Oilers would continue their push back into the game in the 3rd period, with BJ MacDonald ensuring the lead for Edmonton after a great setup by MacTavish.  However the Jets weren’t done yet.  Selanne would continue his magic by making a great play coming into the Edmonton zone then setting up former Jets captain Kris King’s tying goal.  With 3 seconds left in the game, Selanne would be awarded a penalty shot, which was successful thereby securing a victory for the Winnipeg Jets legends.  After the game, players from both teams and others associated with the event were hosted at a NHL VIP Party that evening from 8:00 PM until 1:00 am.

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The next day was the third and final day of the Winnipeg Heritage Classic, during which the current editions of the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers squared off before a crowd of over 33 000 people at Investors Group Field. While the game was originally scheduled to start at 2:00 PM, a sun glare over the ice at Investors Group Field delayed the start of the game by almost 2 hours, with the NHL saying that such a glare could jeopardize player safety. Once the sun glare eased up a little bit, the game would finally get under way at 3:53 PM.  Unlike the back and forth action of the previous day’s Alumni Game, Edmonton took over the score sheet of the game featuring the current stars almost right from the start.  Mark Letestu would score a shorthanded goal for the Oilers midway through the 1st period, opening the scoring.  There’d then be no scoring until 8:50 left in the 2nd period.  Oilers captain Connor McDavid would skate down the ice with the puck with teammate Darnell Nurse’s penalty set to expire.  Nurse coming out of the penalty box would create a 2 on 1 situation, and McDavid would pass it over to Nurse near the net.  Nurse would get the puck past Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck to score the game’s second goal.  Near the end of the 2nd period, Winnipeg Jets super rookie Patrik Laine would turn over the puck in the defensive zone, which would eventually lead to another Oilers goal by Zack Kassian with 2:44 left in the 2nd period, making the game 3-0 Edmonton.  The Oilers would eventually secure the victory after a scoreless 3rd period, with Oilers goalie Cam Talbot earning a shutout on a 31 save performance.

Jackson Events was proud of be a part of the Winnipeg Heritage Classic. On behalf of Jackson Events, the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers, thank you to everyone who came out and participated in the many festivities during the 2016 Winnipeg Heritage Classic Weekend.

Written By: Chris Cunneen