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This article was published 22/10/2016 (1387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Fans at the NHL’s Heritage Classic alumni game got their fill of nostalgia Saturday afternoon.
Forty-four well-past-their-prime ex-NHLers entertained a nearly full house of 31,317 at Investors Group Field with the Winnipeg Jets alums erasing a late deficit to post a 6-5 triumph over Edmonton Oilers.
Teemu Selanne was the hero of the piece, naturally. He scored twice, including the game winner on a penalty shot with 3.6 seconds left in the third period and added three assists for the winners.
"Obviously, it was a great ending, but the whole weekend has been unbelievable," said the 46-year-old Selanne. "First of all coming back here and meeting all the old teammates I haven’t seen in 20 years and playing against those Edmonton legends. Getting back to the Winnipeg people was something special."
Craig Simpson, the NHL broadcaster who turns 50 in February, set up Selanne’s winner by tripping the Finnish Flash in front of the Jets net late in regulation time. Selanne made no mistake on the resulting penalty shot, going five-hole on Oilers goaltender Curtis Joseph.
"It’s a terrible play," said Simpson. "You wear the goat horns and you make a dumb play, it’s as easy as that. It’s another reminder just how things can happen so quickly. You’re trying to get in there, you’re exhausted at the end of the game and I made a bad play."
"Of all guys," he said. "At least I didn’t trip somebody, Kinger (Kris King), and have him do it. At least it’s Teemu and he gets his opportunity to get the fans going. Good for him."
Penalty shots were issued after each minor penalty, which was also the scenario on Selanne’s goal that opened scoring at 4:38 of the first period.
Mark Messier scored twice for the Oilers, while B.J. MacDonald, Simpson and Craig MacTavish added singles.
Kris King also scored twice for the Jets, while Dale Hawerchuk and Mike Eagles added singles for the hosts.
Bill Ranford, Dwayne Roloson and Joseph played a period each in the Edmonton net while Winnipeg’s Bob Essensa and Daniel Berthiaume shared duties with Berthiaume playing the final 40 minutes.
Oilers great Wayne Gretzky didn’t register a point but enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
"There was nothing negative at all about the day," said Gretzky. "A tremendous crowd for an alumni game — you can tell how big hockey is here. The hockey obviously wasn’t great hockey but it was competitive. The game ended the way it should end, with the best player on the ice on the home team scoring a big goal. Good for him, good for the franchise and great for the city."
Edmonton forward Willy Lindstrom was traded before the start of the third period. The Oilers dealt Lindstrom for a first-round selection in the next alumni game.
The 65-year-old Lindstrom played for both teams during his career, spending almost eight seasons with Winnipeg, including a stretch between 1975 and 1979 in the WHA.
Gretzky was looking forward to today’s Heritage Classic game, a regular-season matchup between the current Oilers and Jets at IGF.
"Tomorrow is the real game, the game that matters," said Gretzky. "This isn’t going to change your livelihood. We had a great experience, a wonderful night on Friday and we had a great day today, just enjoyed playing the game."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
Updated on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 7:30 PM CDT: Adds video
9:35 PM: Adds slideshow
11:44 PM: Full writethru with quotes.
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