It has been 16 years since Winnipeg fans have savoured the possibility of a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Sixteen long years. No NHL playoff games in this city since the last century.
But with only one game left this month for the Winnipeg Jets, nine home games remaining before the end of the season, and the Stanley Cup playoffs little more than a month away, for the first time in years fans are beginning to dream big.
Despite the home team’s 3-2 loss in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues at an afternoon game on Saturday, fans streaming out of the MTS Centre kept their game faces on and their hopes alive.
Dressed head to toe in a goalie uniform just like his idol Ondrej Pavelec, eight-year-old Cody Creasy of Brandon said he’s positive the Jets will make the playoffs this year.
"I like Pavelec — he’s my favourite player," Creasy said from within his goalie mask.
"They’ll be in the playoffs." agreed Creasy’s dad, Shaun.
He is also sure another Winnipeg tradition will make a comeback this year: the whiteout.
"I think it’s a great marketing ploy by the Jets to put the blue shirts out first and then wait to put white shirts out," he said. "But I’ll be buying one."
Nearby, five-year-old Alex Ranieri clutched a hockey puck scuffed up from being banged around for a bit by Jets players on the ice.
With only a tiny bit of prodding from his mom, Christy, Alex said "I got a puck from a hockey player."
Who from? "Number 14."
The player? "Tim Stapleton."
Both Christy, and her husband Joe, believe the Jets have a roster that can make the playoffs.
"They know what they have to do," Christy said.
"We’ll absolutely try for tickets for the playoffs," Joe said, holding his other son, two-year-old Julien.
"But it will probably just be the two of us (Christy and he)."
Sporting a blue Jets jersey, Christy thinks there’s a chance one tradition could change during playoff time.
"It could be a blueout this year," she said laughing.
Peter Couture, a Jets fan who watched the final seconds of Saturday’s games on a television from just outside the main doors as he was leaving, said he doesn’t have season tickets, but he’s hoping to snag a playoff ticket if the team makes the playoffs.
"They’re doing a lot better than I thought they would this year," Couture said.
"I think they’ll go past the first round — I think to the second or third round."
It’s also what Jets fan Kevin Baydock thinks.
"Confident? Gotta be — you gotta believe," Baydock said.
"Every game is so important. It’s a long road to get to the cup. I’m confident for sure.
"All the top guys seem to be scoring goals, which is what this team needs."
Nick Milne, a season ticket holder, said he has already been scanning the email he received from the Jets announcing the sale of playoff tickets in advance for the holders of those tickets.
"I’ll be going to some playoff games for sure," Milne said.
"And if we make it to the playoffs," Milne’s friend David Sylvestre added, "it will definitely be a whiteout."
— With files from Trevor Hagan