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After nearly 600 days, Wild host regular-season game with no capacity limits

Fans, as well as business owners around the X, hope it's the start of a new chapter.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The last time the Minnesota Wild played a regular-season home game without capacity limits, they defeated the Nashville Predators 3-1, in front of more than 17,000 fans at Xcel Energy Center on March 3, 2020.

A lot has changed since then.

“Absolutely,” Kristine Frederick said. “Can hardly remember it.”

Almost 600 days later, Frederick and thousands of other Wild fans returned to the X for the 2021-2022 home opener against the Winnipeg Jets, filling the "X" to the rafters with a rowdy and enthusiastic crowd.

Michael Stumme, a St. Paul native, attended his first game at the X in almost seven years Tuesday night after moving back from Florida.

“I’m a Minnesota boy at heart. It’s good to be back home, especially for the opener,” Stumme said. “It’s good to see everything back up and running. It puts a little warmth in your heart.”

The return of Wild hockey also brought joy to businesses on the West Seventh corridor, which had been rocked by the pandemic as well as last weekend’s mass shooting at Seventh Street Truck Park.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone on this street,” said Kathy Gosiger, the general manager at nearby Tom Reid’s. “We hope that this is the turning point to get people back here.”

After the shooting, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and St. Paul Police noticeably bolstered patrols in the area, with many walking the beat on Tuesday night among the pack of hockey fans in Wild jerseys. The police department has previously said that it rearranged schedules, to ensure officers could patrol until 2 a.m. on weekends.

“I think that when people come down here, and they park and they see the patrols out,” Gosiger said, “they’re going to feel safer.”

On Tuesday night, Seventh Street Truck Park also reopened for the first time since the shooting, although management told KARE 11 they plan to have shorter hours on weekends and will not feature DJs.

Rick Firkus, who lives above Seventh Street Truck Park, found a spot at the outdoor bar a few hours ahead of the Wild game.

“It’s what we were hoping for,” Firkus said. “People are coming out. They’re happy. They’re enjoying everything. And it’s a great way to start.”

The Wild treated the fans to a memorable finish as they rallied to beat the Jets in overtime.