It was a different home opener for the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
They lost 3-2 in overtime against the Winnipeg Jets in their first game at Mullett Arena, the brand new 5,000-seat building on the campus of Arizona State University that they will share with the men’s Division I ice hockey team of the NCAA of the Sun Devils for at least the next three seasons.
It was loud, fun, fast, disappointing for fans in the end, but definitely unique.
“The energy was tremendous,” said the Coyotes forward Christian Fisher, who scored the first two NHL goals here. “I think it’s fun, something that we’ve missed as players, especially the guys who have been here for a while. It’s a fun place to play. Lots of noise from outside about everyone details but we’re playing a hockey game it’s loud and the fans are cheering us on that’s all we care about I thought the fans were great nice little rink.
Fans were welcomed into the building more than 90 minutes before the puck drop and greeted at their seats with a special gift: faux mules tied to headbands that read “GO COYOTES GO” on the front and “YOU DO YOU” on the back.
It was a play on the arena’s namesake, which is in honor of prominent ASU donors Don and Barbara Mullett, who were key figures when the program began nearly eight years ago. year.
Fischer joked that he was going to take one of the mules with him and use it for a Halloween costume.
“You have to have fun with it,” he said. “We’re playing hockey and that’s how things are right now. Not permanent and we’re going to use that to our advantage. That’s the biggest goal.”
Mules were a hit with fans.
“Great little touch,” said Evan Miles, an ASU senior who dressed as a pineapple next to his friends Jackson Dunn, the banana, and Josh Olenick, the penguin.
Video: [email protected]: Mullets on display at the Mullett Arena
Miles, Dunn and Olenick were in the student section behind the net which the Coyotes defended twice. The NHL team is making between 200 and 400 tickets available to ASU students for home games as part of a fan club they call Coyotes U.
Miles is from Los Angeles and a Kings fan. Olenick is from Scranton, Pennsylvania, so he had to be the penguin. Dunn is from Seattle and said he was a Kraken fan, but this was his first NHL game.
He said they also had tickets for the game against the New York Rangers on Sunday.
“I’m new to this whole hockey thing and I like it,” Dunn said. “They send out tickets before every homestand, so I always check my email.”
About 10 rows ahead of them was a group of guys from Boston celebrating their friend’s bachelor party here. The bachelor, Drew Thibodeau, wore a greenish plaid jumpsuit. The rest of the group wore matching bluish gray jumpsuits.
“The atmosphere is unreal,” Thibodeau said. “It’s absolutely electric. I think it’s one of the best ideas the NHL has had because you’re going to get a young crowd to come and party. We’ll lead the way.”
The building was mostly filled with diehard Coyotes, many of whom held season tickets to the Gila River Arena in Glendale. They’re also realistic and understand that the Coyotes are rebuilding, so not every home game will have the exact same vibe as the first game.
“I’m thrilled with his privacy,” said Mitch Thomas, a Tempe resident who had season tickets in his family since 1998. we’re fighting for (potential No. 1 draft pick) Conor Bedard at the end, but I think since it’s closer to the East Valley you’ll see more people and more opportunities for a market. opportunity to get in, where there wasn’t the walk-in traffic before. It will be totally different. I mean, the money, the sponsorships, the fan base, the rinks where you play and young people are everywhere here.
Video: Wheeler’s overtime goal puts Jets past Coyotes
The warm-ups ended, and the announcer greeted the crowd, saying, “Good evening everyone and welcome to the story.”
Famous Coyotes alumnus Paul Bissonnette, now of Turner Sports fame, was shown wearing a Coyote head on the small scoreboard in a taped segment.
“Rock this place cause it’s [expletive] at showtime,” Bissonnette shouted.
The lights went out. Fans in the student section held up their cellphone flashlights and the Coyotes pumping video played.
The players were introduced one by one because it was, after all, the Coyotes’ home opener. Justin Roberts, a Scottsdale-based ring announcer for All Elite Wrestling, announced the starting lineups.
Then the mules had to break away for “O Canada” and “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Shane Doan, the former Coyotes captain and most recognizable player in team history, joined his son, Josh, the ASU captain and a Coyotes prospect as the second-round pick (n 37) of the 2021 NHL Draft, on the ice for the puck toss ceremony.
Video: [email protected]: Doans take part in the puck drop ceremony
The game started and the student section immediately started a chant “Let’s Go Coyotes”, bringing in the rest of the crowd.
The drum line behind then sounded.
Fischer scored the first goal at 10:17 of the first period, and the goal horn was a howling coyote.
“I always look at the jumbotron and it looked different, it’s smaller, so it kind of surprised me when I looked up there,” Fischer said. “But a nice little souvenir for me.”
He scored again at 15:28 to make it 2-0.
“We get that lead, you could feel the energy, you start feeding off of it,” Fischer said. “Most teams have it. Almost all teams have it. It’s kind of fun.”
Cole Perfecti got the Jets on the board 26 seconds later at 15:54. Marc Scheifele tied 2-2 at 8:34 of the third period, and Blake Wheeler scored 32 seconds into overtime to send the 5,000 fans into the Tempe night with memories, even though the ending wasn’t what they were hoping for.
“A new chapter of hockey here in Arizona being in Tempe,” said Coyotes forward Clayton Keller said. “I hope they keep showing up.”