Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets take time to do a little happy dance

Coach and crew in mood for some post-game fun

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It is a cutthroat, win-now-or-else business. And so excuse the Winnipeg Jets -- or any other pro sports team, for that matter -- if they don't take a few moments, at least, to soak in some of the good times.

And so it was for the Jets after Thursday's 7-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

There was Evander Kane after the game with the nameplate from Chris Thorburn sticking out of his sweatshirt while he did interviews, apparently in support of his pal who scored his second goal of the season. Or something like that.

And then there was coach Claude Noel, who was rocking a three-piece suit Thursday and did his post-game media conference minus the jacket and showcasing his vest.

"All I can say about the vest is I bought it in New York," Noel said. "I didn't pay much for it -- I'm not going to tell you the price because I know you guys are vicious... I've seen some of your writing.

"All I can say is another staff member bought a suit with a vest and he didn't have the courage to wear the vest. He put me in front of it and I had to wear it and Andrew Ladd said, 'Is it prom night tonight?' Good line. That's a good one."

The Jets don't play again until next Tuesday when Tampa is in town. And in the interim there will be a lot of joy in Jetsland.

"You want to know what level of joy I'm going to have?," Noel said. "There's been a lot of levels. One to 10, it would probably be nine and three-quarters. It will start tomorrow and it will end... well, I don't know. If we win Tuesday, there will be some more."



For the Winnipeg Jets' penalty-killing, this short season has been the tale of two very different seasons.

Out of the gate in January, the Jets barely had any penalty-killing. Their percentage was in the low 60s -- nearly laughingstock levels -- and it threatened to sabotage any chance they might have to succeed.

Then, somewhere around mid-February, an about-face took place.

Since Feb. 24, and in their last 26 games, the Jets have killed 61 of 69 short-handed situations. That's 88.4 per cent and if that was the team's season-long number, it would be No. 2 in the NHL.

"We changed our penalty-kill pretty drastically," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said about the start of the 2013 campaign. "And I think it took us some games to figure out exactly how we wanted to execute it and once we've kind of figured that out, it's been really good for us the rest of the way.

"It's one of those things where we pressure a lot and you have to pressure at the right times and do it together. I think we've figured that out and been successful since then."



Jason Jaffray has been named the St. John's IceCaps Man of the Year for his "outstanding contributions to various communities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador during the 2012-13 season." The IceCaps captain is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL's 2012-13 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award.



  • Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck had his NCAA season end Thursday night when the UMass-Lowell River Hawks fell 3-2 in OT to Yale in the semifinal of the Frozen Four.
  • Hellebuyck, a freshman, is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in U.S. college hockey after posting the nation's best goals-against average and save percentage.
  • Mark Scheifele's Barrie Colts have advanced to the OHL's Eastern Conference Final and have yet to lose a playoff game. Scheifele has five goals and 10 assists in eight games. The Colts will face the Belleville Bulls next, featuring Jets draft pick Austen Brassard, after they swept the Sudbury Wolves.
  • Adam Lowry has now played four games with the St. John's IceCaps after his Swift Current Broncos were eliminated from the WHL playoffs. Lowry picked up his first point, an assist, in St. John's 4-3 win over Portland on Wednesday.
  • In the other Frozen Four semi, Jets prospect Jordan Samuels-Thomas had a goal and assist as Quinnipiac took the final in a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State. Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2013 C4

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