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Wheeler, Morrissey, Copp, Niku, Scheifele Lead Jets Past Wild

By Scott Taylor

Photo by James Carey Lauder

Andrew Copp should ask for more money.

Wheeler, Morrissey, Copp, Niku, Scheifele Lead Jets Past Wild

Wednesday night in the Winnipeg Jets pre-season home opener, Copp scored the game’s first goal on a blistering wrist shot over the shoulder of Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and then, just 38 seconds later, dished out an assist on the eventual winning goal as the Jets whipped the Wild 4-1.

Granted, it was a meaningless pre-season scrimmage against a Wild team that brought a number of players to BellMTS Place who might have been in witness protection before Wednesday night’s game, but Copp was still rock solid early in the first period as he took his arbitration decision and showed he could play on the top line and contribute.

Certainly, Copp, Adam Lowry and Blake Wheeler will not be the No. 1 when the regular season starts in Manhattan on Oct. 3, but for this one night, it had some bright moments. 

And when you consider the Jets went 0-5-0 against the Wild last season, beating them handily should give Winnipeg a confidence boost.

The Jets led 2-0 after the first 1:37 as Copp scored from Sami Niku, who also had a solid game, and then Blake Wheeler beat Kahkonen from the slot as Copp and Niku drew the assists. Niku is a slick, offensive-minded defenseman who should end up with a lot of assists this season if he gets a regular shot with the big club.

After an excruciatingly dull, scoreless second period – one only a coach could love – Minnesota made it 2-1 at 8:44 of the third when Nico Sturm beat Laurent Brossoit from in close after Jets defenseman Anthony Bitetto got all discombobulated in front of his own net.

However, the Jets came back and dominated again late in the final period as Josh Morrissey, who was brilliant all evening beat Kahkonen with a beautiful high slapper – a one-timer from Mark Scheifele — from the point to make it 3-1. Rookie C.J. Suess scored an empty netter to wrap it up. 

The Jets outshot Minnesota 32-21. The Wild won 53 per cent of the faceoffs and Winnipeg outhit Minnesota 25-21. Winnipeg’s Tucker Poolman and the Wild’s Mike Liambas, a nasty player who has actually been kicked out of two leagues, had a donnybrook in the opening period. Both were handed minors and majors for their efforts. 

The Jets, now 1-1 in the full-uniform practice sessions, play their second home pre-season game on Friday night at BellMTS Place as the St. Louis Blues come to town.

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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