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A Morweena winna

Leafs' Reimer relies on kin to cheer him when he visits

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Morweena vs. Winnipeg will never qualify as a hockey civil war, but James Reimer was pretty sure of one thing Thursday night at the MTS Centre.

When the Winnipeg Jets' faithful started chanting his name early in the game -- as they so often do to harass out-of-town stars -- the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie knew there would be some in the downtown rink who were not too happy about it.

"Now that we won, maybe it's sweet revenge for them," Reimer beamed after the Leafs pulled out a late 3-2 victory over the Jets.

"No, it's pretty funny when people who are close to you, especially my mom and my sisters or my wife sometimes, they get a little fired up from it.

"Usually my brothers and my dad, they get a good kick out of it."

It's as much a salute as it is harassment and Reimer, who has played here before in both the NHL and AHL, knows it well.

"It's nice to be appreciated," said the grinning goalie, who hails from Morweena, population about 150, about 90 minutes north of Winnipeg. "That was good. At least they were pronouncing it right; that's really all that matters.

"It was fun. Obviously it's one of the best places in the league to play and it's the fans -- they create a great atmosphere.

"They get into it and obviously they give their team a huge boost. Good on them. It's always fun to play here."

Reimer didn't buckle under early Jets pressure and the 24-year-old wound up with 23 saves, including blanking the Winnipeg power play four times for his 38th career NHL win.

"I always had a pretty good record here playing in the A, but so far I was O-for-1 in the NHL," he said. "So it's nice to be .500 here.

"It's always fun to win in front of your friends and family. A lot of special people were here tonight, people that got me here."

The reward was obvious, and one of the game's offensive stars, Leafs' Tyler Bozak (two points, including a short-handed goal) said he felt good for his teammate.

"He's given us a chance to win all year," Bozak said after the Leafs moved to 6-5-0 on the season.

"It's his hometown, so he wanted to put on a show, and I think he did a really good job. He helped us stay in the game early and then made the big saves when we needed them."

Reimer's night included the usual NHL contact near the blue paint.

At one point, he was flattened and lost his mask when Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn was sent sailing through the crease by a cross-check from Toronto's Colton Orr.

"It was a good bump," Reimer said. "You get hit in parts of the game, and obviously they're going hard to the net. I took a couple (of shots) actually off the head today, too."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2013 C2

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