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This article was published 11/4/2019 (689 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The men of Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus hope their singing will improve the Winnipeg Jets' luck and lead them to victory in Friday's NHL playoff game against the St. Louis Blues.
It will mark the sixth time Hoosli has sung the national anthem at a Jets game. Every time they’ve sang, the home side has won.
The Jets are down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series after losing to the Blues 2-1 Wednesday in their opening game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Jets want a win in front of a home crowd before heading to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4.
"Anything we can do to help the playoff run," said Christopher Sklepowich, who sings with Hoosli and chairs its board of directors.
On March 23, after the choir sang, Winnipeg thumped the Nashville Predators and clinched a playoff spot.
While Jets head coach Paul Maurice didn’t credit the choir with the 5-0 win, he told reporters afterward, "right from the national anthems there was a buzz."
After the game, former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood tweeted: "In all my years of watching and playing sports I have never heard any individual or group sing the anthems as spectacularly as the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus. I have watched them sing the anthem another five times today."
The tweet attracted enthusiastic responses from other fans. One Twitter user said: "Listening to #hoosli choir sends chills down my spine! Love listening to my Ukrainian brethren!"
Another added: "They absolutely need to do our playoff games."
Sklepowich said many of men in the choir are Jets fans. Several of them missed practice Wednesday to go to the game.
Hoosli had sung at Manitoba Moose (AHL), Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association baseball) and Bombers (CFL) games. When an NHL team returned to Winnipeg in 2011, it was the choir's dream to sing the anthem at a Jets game. In March 2017, they got their chance.
"We went on the ice and blew a lot of people away," said Sklepowich.
He added after they sang, the NHL tweeted out a video of the performance, and Ukrainian news outlets picked up on it.
This year, they have performed the anthem at two regular-season games. Sklepowich said it felt different as soon as they stepped on the ice.
"The cheer that comes up from the crowd even before we start singing… they know who we are and what we can do, and they’re super excited."
Sklepowich said Hoosli doesn’t have any more games lined up yet, and the logistics of getting more than 30 men to the arena three hours before game time is tough.
However, he said they "100 per cent" want to do it again.