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Hockey ‘Gift to be a part of this community’: Jets fever spreads, well beyond Winnipeg

While the Whiteout Street Party grows in Winnipeg with the excitement of each game, Jets fans around the world aren’t letting geography get in the way of supporting their team on the road to the Stanley Cup.

In Vancouver, the Coppertank pub has seen an increasing stream of thirsty fans filling the bar in white jerseys as the Jets battle it out with the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final.

Coppertank owner Ben Wyllie says initially there was only a handful of fans wearing the jerseys, but now the bar is experiencing its own whiteout. He said new Jets fans emerge each day. While they may not all be from Manitoba, he said they are certainly friendly.

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“Nobody leaves without paying. Nobody gets mad. Nothing is broken,” he said. “Just superfriendly people that have an amazing ability to drink a lot of beer.”

Jets fever isn’t just confined to Canada either.

When Eric Meadow drives around his Connecticut neighbourhood, not a lot of people immediately recognize the giant logo on his car – a blue and white circle with a jet and a maple leaf – signalling to other hockey fans where his allegiance is.

The American joined the bandwagon when he lived in Atlanta and the Winnipeg Jets were still the Atlanta Thrashers.

“For those of us down here who have stuck with it, it’s such a gift to be a part of this community,” he told The Canadian Press from Cromwell, Conn.

There may only be a handful of Jets fans in his vicinity, but Meadow said they take the team, and their support, seriously.

On game day, they put their own twist on a whiteout party with special deserts like vanilla ice cream and white chocolate. And, of course, everyone puts on their Jets jersey.

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He said the Jets fever is spreading as more people join his family to watch the games.

“It’s fun having some people kind of hoping on because I brought them on because they know how much it means to me,” he said with a laugh.

“People just watching it and they are just like, ‘Where was this team before?’ and kind of watching the boys come together is real fun.”

Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele has risen to the top of the NHL's playoff goal list, leading with 12 goals in 13 games. Teammate Josh Morrissey says he is not surprised with Scheifele’s success. The Canadian Press
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