The Annual Heritage Classic proved to be a winning night for the Winnipeg after the Jets and Flames ended the third period tied and heading into overtime. For Bryan Little, it will be a night to remember after the Cambridge, Ontario native scored the winning goal to give the Winnipeg Jets a 2-1 victory in Regina on Saturday night.
With only 3 minutes remaining in overtime, Little and Kyle Connor went in on a 2 on 1 breakaway as Little managed to slip the puck under the pads of Calgary Flames goalie David Rittich. It was Bryan Little’s first goal of the year and a monster one that saw teammates rushing to offer their congratulations and celebrate the win. Speaking on the play and game, Little who plays forward, said,
“It’s pretty cool. It was one of those games where I pretty much didn’t have any chances. Then you get a two-on-one like that in overtime. I’ll admit I really didn’t do too much. I just went to the net and put my stick on the ice and Kyle made a great pass. But it was definitely a great feeling.”
After suffering a concussion, Little was absent for the first nine games of the season. He is playing his thirteenth year in the NHL and is one the longest serving players on the Jets roster. Absent at last year’s Heritage Classic due to a knee injury, the forward who watched from the sidelines stated,
“It was definitely frustrating last time watching from the sidelines and not getting to experience it. When I heard we were playing outside I had this circled on the calendar. Definitely lived up to everything.”
Saturday night’s game was the 28th game to be played outside since 2003 and saw two of the prairie’s NHL teams playing at the Mosaic Stadium. After going down 1-0, Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey put the Jets on the scoreboard to give them a tie and force overtime.
Elias Lindholm scored the Flames only goal, David Rittich had 43 saves, and Connor Hellebuyck had 29. It was packed house at the stadium with over 33,000 in attendance at the Saskatchewan Roughriders home stadium. Speaking on the experience, defenseman Josh Morrissey stated,
“As soon as we walked out of the tunnel, the crowd was electric. It was completely full and as a player, it was just an awesome time and I think the city and the province really embraced it.”
The day was quite cold with temperatures only reaching a high of 17, but with the winds gusting up to 43 km and snow dropping hours before the 8pm start, it felt like -10 with the windchill. However, it felt right for Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, who stated,
“It feels right, It feels like that’s how hockey should be and how legends of the past grew up playing. You hear all the greats talk about growing up and playing on the outdoor rink. It’s cool to play in that environment where it’s snowing, it’s causing the ice to be slower, you’re falling, you’re losing the puck, it bounces all over the place. You knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and it was fun.”
While neither team managed to score many goals, they both had multiple chances with the two sending 26 shots at each respective goalie in the course of the first and second period. Even when playing with a one man advantage after Calgary’s Sean Monahan went to the box to serve a triple minor the Winnipeg Jets were unable to score.
It wasn’t until the final minutes of the third before Morrissey saved the day for Winnipeg after slotting a shot past Rittich in the top corner. It was the Jets first goal in an outdoor game after they failed to score at their last appearance against the Oilers in 2016.
The Heritage Classic was the first of five games on the road for Winnipeg. They next will head to Anaheim to play the Ducks on Tuesday. Punters hoping Winnipeg will keep up the momentum from Saturday night’s win will find great odds offered as the NHL season heats up with leading sportsbooks such as Bodog, a leader in Canadian sportsbetting. Register today, claim a sign up bonus and maximum your potential with regular bonuses. The Calgary Flames will also head out on the road first visiting the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, Nashville on Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jacket on Saturday and the Washington Capitals on Sunday.