ARIZONA COYOTES

Mullett Arena a success for Coyotes on opening night despite defeat

Oct 28, 2022, 11:55 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2023, 9:23 am
Fans watch the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets during the second period of an NHL hockey game...

Fans watch the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE — It was intimate, yet rowdy at Mullett Arena on Friday as the Arizona Coyotes (2-4-1) made their debut at the new multi-purpose arena, falling 3-2 in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets (5-3).

The arena was jam-packed with fans, many of whom donned the blonde mullet wigs the team placed on each seat prior to the game. Almost every seat was filled in the arena, with some empty seats in a few sections. However, the fans with those seats may have been utilizing the standing-room-only sections or club area above the benches.

The atmosphere was fantastic for the majority of the game and was ramped up pregame when Coyotes legend Shane Doan, along with his son Josh, an ASU star who was drafted by Arizona in 2021, dropped the ceremonial puck. The arena was even more charged up when Coyotes forward Christian Fischer scored the arena’s first NHL goal in the first period.

The arena felt somewhat like a small college basketball arena where the fans are on top of the action. It was loud and did not have the stale feel of games at now-Desert Diamond Arena. The small size of the arena allowed for it to be packed.

It felt like a group of friends getting together to watch a hockey game compared to a sometimes half-empty venue where fans were separated by many empty seats.

Jets happy with experience in Tempe

Much has been made about the locker room situation for the visiting team at Mullett Arena. While the NHL locker rooms are being completed, a temporary locker room has been set up for the visitors on top of the adjacent community rink. The rink is covered with rubber slabs and a curtain goes up around metal lockers.

Despite all of the talk in the media about the locker room situation, the Jets did not have complaints.

“Actually, our locker room was fine,” Winnipeg associate coach Scott Arniel said postgame. “It’s big, it’s wide open here.”

Jets forward Blake Wheeler echoed his coach.

“If you get lost in the surroundings or the locker room or whatever, you’re going to be distracted, not give yourself a chance to win,” Wheeler said. “So all-in-all, I think it was made out to be a lot worse than it actually was.

“And as long as you got a spot to put your gear on and talk about the game and I mean it really is a beautiful college hockey rink. So, I’ve played in way worse arenas for sure.”

Jets forward Cole Perfetti’s only real issue with the locker room situation was it being on top of the community rink. He said it was “a little chilly on the feet.”

As for the ice condition, both Wheeler and Perfetti praised it, with the latter saying it was much better than the ice at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, where the Jets faced the Kings on Thursday.

Atmosphere-wise, Perfetti liked what the small arena had to offer.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” Perfetti said. “Even in warmups when they’re right on top of you like that — all the fans, it’s exciting.”

UP NEXT

The Coyotes host the New York Rangers (3-3-2) on Sunday in Tempe at 5 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM and 98.7 FM HD-2, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

Arizona Coyotes fans wait for the doors to open prior to the Coyotes NHL home-opening game against the Winnipeg Jets at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. For the Coyotes, the Mullett Arena is their temporary home they will share with the Arizona State NCAA college hockey team. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes fans wait for the doors to open prior to the Coyotes NHL home-opening game against the Winnipeg Jets at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. For the Coyotes, the Mullett Arena is their temporary home they will share with the Arizona State NCAA college hockey team. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes fans walk the concourse level prior to the Coyotes NHL home opening game at the Mullett Arena against the Winnipeg Jets in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. For the Coyotes the Mullett Arena is their temporary home they will share with the Arizona State University hockey team. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fans watch players as they warm up prior to the Arizona Coyotes NHL home opening hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets at the 5,000 seat Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fans watch players as they warm up prior to the Arizona Coyotes NHL home-opening hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Coyotes will share the arena with the Arizona State NCAA college hockey team. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer, right, sends the puck past Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich (33) for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich (33) slides over to make a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad (17) during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer, center right, celebrates his goal against Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich (33) during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich (33) slides over to make a save against Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller (9) during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey (44) skates with the puck against Arizona Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer (36) during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon (5), Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad (17), Jets center Adam Lowry (17), Coyotes right wing Dylan Guenther (11), and Jets defenseman Nate Schmidt (88) look for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Goaltender Karel Vejmelka #70, Liam O'Brien #38 and Josh Brown #3 of the Arizona Coyotes attempt to clear the puck as Mason Appleton #22 of the Winnipeg Jets crashes during the third period of the NHL game at Mullett Arena on October 28, 2022 in Tempe, Arizona. The Jets defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler, middle, celebrates his game-winning goal against the Arizona Coyotes with Jets left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) and Jets defenseman Neal Pionk, right, during overtime of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (70) skates off the ice with Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (14) as Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler, second from right, celebrates his game-winning goal with Jets defenseman Neal Pionk, right, and Jets left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois, third from right, during overtime of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad (17) as Jets defenseman Neal Pionk (4) looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) tries to keep the puck away from Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) during overtime of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) watches the puck go into the net on a shot by Jets right wing Blake Wheeler (26) as Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, back left, and Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, front right, are unable to stop the shot during overtime of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg (54) checks Arizona Coyotes right wing Zack Kassian (44) to the ice as Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo (2) looks for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes defenseman Patrik Nemeth (2) blocks a shot in front of Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (70) as Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad (17) loses the puck as he gets hit by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey (44) during the third period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fans watch the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Winnipeg Jets center Mason Appleton (22) tips the puck away from Arizona Coyotes left wing Matias Maccelli (63) during the third period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (70) makes a save on a shot by Winnipeg Jets center Sam Gagner (89) as Coyotes right wing Christian Fischer (36) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The Jets won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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