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CHN Road Blog: From Fargo To Winnipeg To Fargo



Avalanche Jets

Nashville, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Dallas. Those are the other cities the Colorado Avalanche could have gone to for round one of the NHL playoffs.

Nope, that would have been too easy. Instead, the Avalanche found themselves matched up with the Winnipeg Jets. I will say that after spending a few days in Winnipeg, I really don’t have a problem with the city itself. It’s not somewhere I’d necessarily love to live, but as an NHL city that you pass through, it’s fine. We found some good places to eat (which I’ll talk about) and it was a good time.

The problem is actually getting to Winnipeg. For a team that is home to a professional sports team, it is insanely difficult (and expensive) to get there. There are no direct flights from Denver to Winnipeg, and vice-versa. There’s nothing wrong with a layover, but once you get past that, it’s the cost of the flight that gets you. Round trip, you would be insanely lucky to find a flight that gets you there and back for under $1,000. That’s ridiculous when you consider the city you’re headed to, so some of us on the beat for the Avalanche got creative.

Fargo, here we come.

Myself, Corey Masisak from the Denver Post, and Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Gazette decided to fly into Fargo and make the 3.5 hour drive to Winnipeg. Is it ideal? Absolutely not, but it was a heck of a lot cheaper than flying directly to Winnipeg, and it did the job. Plus, it’s a little more fun to talk about than a direct flight to Winnipeg.

Corey let me bum a ride with him to Winnipeg and back. First off, if you’re not following Corey, you should start doing so immediately. He’s been covering the NHL for years, has a ton of knowledge of the game, and is a great guy. He’s been a fantastic addition to the Avalanche beat, and everyone loves having him around. Corey is also a big College Football fan, so while we were in Fargo, he wanted to stop by the Fargodome. I mean, what else is there to do in Fargo?

(I don’t actually know the answer to that question)

From the outside, looks like a standard football dome, but the setup inside is interesting. Not what I expected to see from a football field. It just so happened to be their Spring game, so good timing on our part.

Avalanche Avalanche

From there, it was onward to Winnipeg. That’s a long and boring drive. Northern North Dakota is exactly what you’d expect – flat, and not a whole lot to see. Getting across the border was pretty simple, because I don’t think a ton of people are heading to Canada that way. Kyle said that the border police asked him if Landeskog was coming back in the playoffs, but no one was interested in asking us anything, other than if we were bringing any weed into their country.

What does Manitoba look like? Well, for the first hour or so, it looks like an extension of North Dakota. Once you hit the Winnipeg area, you start to see civilization again. Somehow, all five members of the Avalanche beat ended up staying at different hotels in Winnipeg. My hotel was nothing fancy, and I don’t need it to be. Just give me the bare essentials to get by and I’m good.

However, I was in Canada, and expected the TV to have endless channels of hockey coverage. That was not the case. My hotel had Roku TV, which meant nothing was live. If anyone follows me on Twitter, you know what channel I found that I never changed from – the Supermarket Sweep channel. I loved that show when I was younger, and it was the perfect background noise for me while I was writing.

When there aren’t games going on in Winnipeg, it’s kind of dead. I didn’t see a lot of people walking around town. There has to be areas of Winnipeg where people congregate that isn’t near the arena. On game days though, the city is electric. Everyone is dressed in white, and they block off all the streets near Canada Life Centre for their parties. People certainly get creative with their white outfits there. I saw the Pope one day, several women wearing wedding dresses, a lot of white hazmat suits, and plenty more. They don’t mess around.

I’ve travelled to a handful of NHL arenas, and this one was certainly the loudest. Seattle was good last year, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Winnipeg, although I do think Climate Pledge Arena is an awesome building. That building is shaking for a good 10 minutes before anyone even hits the ice. The chants towards Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev were pretty good, and I’m impressed at how well the building was able to pronounce his name in unison. And, as you all saw, both games were fantastic. This series is shaping up to be a good one. Time for the fans at Ball Arena to show everyone how loud they can get. I’m sure they will.


Video of Jets Fans Before Game 1

Winnipeg has plenty of good food, that’s for sure. It’s not the most exciting city in the world, and we certainly got lucky with the weather, but you can find a good bite to eat. On Monday night, everyone on the Avalanche beat got together and met up for some Dim Sum in Chinatown. Perfect meal, no notes. On other nights, we met up at bars so we could watch the other NHL playoff games. That was kind of a necessity for me, otherwise I would have been stuck in my hotel room watching some more Supermarket Sweep…not that I would complain about that. Corey and I met for breakfast on Monday morning at Stellas near the arena, and that was incredible. They don’t skimp on portion sizes there. Good thing I got a lot of walking in.

The unfortunate part of the drive back to Fargo is that it came the day after the late start (8:50 PM local time) of Game Two. I didn’t leave the arena until 1 AM local time, and published my final Avalanche story of the night at 2:30 AM. I probably got about three hours of sleep before Corey and I hit the road again this morning. Late night’s are just part of the job. Another “fun” ride through southern Manitoba and North Dakota.

And guess what? We’re going to do it all again next week for Game Five. I booked my flights and hotel today, thanks to everyone’s contributions to the Tip Jar. I’m truly grateful for all of those, and trust me, they’re going towards covering the team on the road. If the Avalanche do advance past round one, you have no idea how grateful I am that it will be either Vegas or Dallas. Those cities are so much easier to get to than Winnipeg. Heck, I might even drive to Vegas if I’m feeling crazy.

That’s a lot of words for a 3-4 day trip, but the playoffs are a special time. I’m back home tonight for a mink-break, and the Avalanche are back on the Thursday afternoon. If you all have any questions on anything, don’t be afraid to ask. I love covering the Avalanche for a living, and am grateful you all read to give me that opportunity.

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