Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fans going to great lengths to snare some coveted tickets

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JETS fan J.J. Moorehead is using the overkill approach to score NHL season tickets today.

At noon, Moorehead will create his own NASA ground control, surrounding himself with three computers -- his fiancée's desktop and two laptops. They'll all be preloaded with his personal information so he can speed through the screens, press enter and hopefully score two season tickets to see Winnipeg's new NHL franchise.

Even better, he's going to steal an Internet connection from two neighbours in his apartment building who haven't password-protected their wireless accounts.

"It is worth it for me to steal Internet to get these tickets. You can put that in the paper," proclaimed Moorehead, a Brandon teacher. "I just want a seat. I would sit behind a wall in a three-quarters-obstructed seat all season long to get there."

It is possible Moorehead will cry if he doesn't get tickets.

Nearly every fan who gathered Friday night at the 4Play Sports Bar and Grill expressed a sense of genuine panic at the looming ticket frenzy. There are only about 5,800 season tickets left and exponentially more people vying for them. Everyone said they weren't fussy about which "P" -- for price point -- their seats were in. They'd take anything. And they expected everything to be sold out by 12:30 p.m., if not earlier.

"I don't think anyone wants to be in the same room with me if I don't get tickets," said Shawn Knox, who changed his shift at the city's 311 information line so he could be home at his computer at noon.

Some, like Bryan Foy, are employing the buddy system. Foy will be on the phone with his brother at noon and whoever gets through first makes the buy. Foy and his friends were a little worried about the Internet getting overloaded at noon, but Foy took some comfort in the fact he has MTS and his brother is a Shaw customer.

Friend Cassidy Dankochik, who was one of the hardcore revellers at Portage and Main Tuesday morning, has entrusted his dad with buying tickets because Dankochik has to work. He's walked his dad step-by-step through the process, preloading his credit-card number and personal information. But the anxiety of the sports bar was infectious and Dankochik was growing increasingly worried his techno-challenged dad might falter. Dankochik might take his laptop to work and sneak away to use a wireless connection.

Phil Gass, who works for a local environmental research and consulting firm, said he's buying tickets with his dad, but the onus is on him to make the purchase today.

"He's the investor, I'm the labourer," he joked. His table of friends at 4Play ranged from "pretty nervous" to "extremely concerned" about the likelihood of getting seats.

Jeff Barrett, a Moose mini-pack holder, bought two P6 season tickets Friday. He considered buying four tickets for friends but that seemed a little risky, he said.

"I had people offering me money, I had people offering me favours," he said with a wink.

The thought of the first game fills Barrett with euphoria.

"It's going to be insane," he said. "I do plan on bringing earplugs."

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2011 A3

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