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This article was published 27/5/2021 (364 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
This Bud's for you, Winnipeg Jets fans.
A human-sized can of Bud Light Seltzer, occupying a seat in Row 6 of Section 121 at Bell MTS Place for games 3 and 4 of Winnipeg's NHL playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers, generated quite a buzz.
Ryan Giesbrecht, 34, the man behind the mascot, says he got a real kick out of the can suit.
"I work with the mascots and some of the elements during the game, the promotions and stuff, but this is a first for me," the man with a bubbly personality said Thursday. "This is my first time jumping into a costume. I thought it might be fun. I didn't think it would turn out to be this huge."
Seltzy, a can of black-cherry alcohol beverage, garnered plenty of TV time during the Jets' home games Sunday and Monday, and has become an instant hit on social media, as well.
In an empty rink, Seltzy was conspicuous by its presence.
"A commenter (on Instagram) said, 'I wonder if the person in the Bud Seltzer costume knows the morale he's bringing to the city during some of our toughest days?' That speaks volumes to Winnipeg Jets fans. We truly have the best fans in the league," said Giesbrecht.
"All the energy across the city and province motivated me to jump into the costume in the first place, and to be one of a few lucky people in the stands."
The Winnipegger juggles two jobs. He's a general manager in the fitness industry, and has a side gig with Jets owner True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd. on the game-day production side of things, working with iconic local sports fan "Dancing" Gabe Langlois, as well as the NHL squad's regular mascots, Benny and Mick E. Moose.
Giesbrecht has gained a deeper appreciation for their work.
"The concept of sitting inside an empty can is something in itself. In all honestly, it might appear like I'm just chilling but I'm actually at the edge of my seat ready to jump up for the next goal horn," he said. "It got a little tiring going deep into overtime, and it became a bit chilly in there, for sure.
"But I went to the dressing room to rehydrate and kept seeing all the positive comments (on social media), the support and love from the city. It was incredible to see the response from fans, and it fired me up to keep celebrating."
Jets winger Kyle Connor finally ended the marathon match 6:52 into triple overtime Monday, lifting the hosts to a 4-3 victory and a four-game sweep of the Oilers.
Giesbrecht admitted he didn't really witness the playoff series-clinching tally.
"It's actually hard to see out of my costume. I can only see silhouettes. I can't see faces or the actual puck," he said. "You could hear the players cheering and the goal horn and the music. The unique experience was hearing the guys so clearly from the ice."
Viewers might have noticed Seltzy sitting down on the job while the on-ice action heated up between the North Division rivals. But Giesbrecht wasn't given free rein to draw attention.
"There was one rule I had to follow: I could celebrate during goals and the intermissions, and really bring the costume to life, but I couldn't do anything to distract the players," he said. "During play, I stayed seated."
Giesbrecht adhered to a list of COVID-19 pandemic health and safety protocols, passing an initial screening test, washing his hands regularly, ensuring physical distancing, and wearing a face covering beneath the Seltzy suit.
Will hockey fans see more of their aluminum chum as the postseason progresses?
"We'll leave that up to True North if he's coming back," Giesbrecht said, adding, "but I sure hope so."
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