Little comes up big for Jets at NHL’s Heritage Classic

When the NHL has never played a regular-season game in Regina, a sold-out crowd at Mosaic Stadium was more than happy to see the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic go to overtime.

Bryan Little was the hero for the Winnipeg Jets as he tapped a Kyle Connor pass past David Rittich 3:04 into overtime to give the Jets a 2-1 win over Calgary on a night where light snow fell over the stadium and ice surface giving it a more Canadian winter feel.

“You just needed Santa and the reindeer blasting over, and it would make the perfect scene.” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said with a smile upon game’s end. “It would have been about the only thing to top that one. It was really good, was what I was trying to say.”

For Little, he has just gotten back into the Winnipeg lineup after missing the first nine games with a concussion,  He says he didn’t do anything special on the game-winning goal.

“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 Little said. “It was definitely a great feeling.”

Despite losing a game that they had the lead in with five minutes to go in the 3rd, Calgary coach Bill Peters says it doesn’t take away from what was a fantastic night at the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“The experience was outstanding. Between the NHL and the city of Regina, the hockey fans in the province of Saskatchewan came out in full force. Lots of energy in Mosaic Stadium, and a beautiful setting with the light snow, and the temperature wasn’t too bad” Peters said. “If you ever get a chance to be a part of one, do it. You ever as a fan get a chance to attend one, I would definitely not deprive myself of the opportunity to do that.”

The contest was the 28th outdoor game the NHL has held and was the first neutral site game in Canada for an outdoor game.

At faceoff, the temperature was minus 3 with a wind chill of minus 11. It was the ninth time that an outdoor game has started with the temperature below freezing.

Both now head out on the road with their next game on Tuesday.  Calgary will be in Raleigh, North Carolina to meet the Carolina Hurricanes while the Jets will visit Anaheim.

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