A group of former Winnipeg Jets invaded Stride Place tonight for an exhibition contest against the Portage Terriers Alumni.
The Jets ultimately came out on top 11-5 in a game that saw a few Portagers take the ice alongside some of the players they watched growing up. Former Jets forward Tim Stapleton says it was fun trying to set up the local 'imports' as they called them.
"I think that's what it's all about," Stapleton explains. "You could see how much fun they had. The whole point of this is to give back to the community, and it was nice to see a few of them score. They were having fun, we were having fun, and it was all in good fun, for sure."
Dennis Beyak, the voice of the Jets for eleven years, is enjoying his first year of retirement but made the trip to Portage to announce the lineups, as well as, the goal scorers.
"This is my first chance to be with the Winnipeg alumni. So, I guess I am officially now part of the alumni," Beyak continues. "It was a great opportunity to come back, come to this event, and see some familiar faces. I'm glad I was asked because it's nice not to be forgotten."
The former Jets play-by-play announcer says it's always great to talk to fans wherever they are and he notes the Winnipeg fan base in Portage is terrific. Beyak adds it was great to talk to Portagers about the Jets.
Stapleton was very impressed with Stride Place.
"This facility is amazing. I don't know much about the town but I actually heard about it from the trainers in Winnipeg last night after the game," Stapleton shares. "They were raving about the facility, and it's really nice. You can tell it's new."
Beyak says it was also his first chance to step foot in Stride Place. He singled out the displays of former Terriers on the walls and the great coffee as two of his favourite aspects of the arena. He gives credit to the Portage Terriers organization.
"This franchise has done such a terrific job. The Portage Terriers have been such a good team for so long, and that just compliments this building. So, congratulations to them. Whether it be a hockey game, curling event, or whatever else goes on, I think this is a perfect building for this city."
Beyak and most of the Winnipeg Jets Alumni group that was on the ice tonight will be back at Stride Place tomorrow for a dinner banquet fundraiser. Beyak will also be doing an autograph signing with Laurie Boschman, Paul McLean, and Grant Clitsome tomorrow at Dunn Chrysler at 12:30.