SUNDRE – Although the Sundre Minor Hockey Association was caught by surprise upon discovering that someone had on behalf of the local arena submitted a bid for the coveted title of Kraft Hockeyville 2024, the organization is nevertheless throwing its full weight behind the effort to rally the community now that the momentum is already there.
Amber Jenkins, the local minor hockey association’s vice-president, candidly confessed having not known about the bid until people started to ask her questions about it.
“Anybody could have done it,” said Jenkins.
But there’s much more to the contest than merely submitting the Sundre Arena’s name for a chance to win the $250,000 prize for facility upgrades along with the thrilling possibility of hosting an NHL pre-season game, she said.
People who are passionate about the arena and the role it plays in their family’s lives must also take the time to nominate the arena by sharing their stories along with any memorable photos they might have.
The greater the number of compelling anecdotes are posted, the higher the odds of being crowned Hockeyville 2024.
“We need more people to do it,” said Jenkins.
For complete contest rules, program details and to submit a nomination bid and pictures, visit hockeyville.kraftcanada.ca – do not include the ".www" at the beginning of the address – and click on “Find My Arena” to search for the Sundre Arena and share your stories before the Feb. 18 deadline.
Jenkins urges everyone not to be shy about singing their praise for their hometown arena.
“Don’t be afraid, just do it,” she said, adding, “Speak from your heart.”
According to a press release, the Kraft Hockeyville campaign is intended to “unite hockey communities” as well as to support greater inclusivity in Canada’s national game. Over the past 18 years since launching, the initiative has resulted in $4.8 million being granted to 97 communities to help address or offset the cost of infrastructure challenges in sports and recreation.
The campaign is the result of a partnership among Kraft Heinz, the NHL as well as the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA). This year, Kraft brought into the fold Patrice Bergeron – Stanley Cup champion, Olympic Gold medalist and former NHL player and Boston Bruins Captain – as the campaign’s official ambassador.
“Like many Canadian hockey fans, my passion and connection to the game started at my local arena,” Bergeron was quoted as saying in the presser.
“Even after all these years, it’s those memories I cherish most. I still remember my skates cutting through the fresh ice at the rink in Sillery, while our hometown crowd cheered us on.”
Throughout the nomination period, people have the opportunity to share their own personal stories that inspired them and along the way highlight their connection not only with the game but especially their local arena that made possible their introduction to the sport in the first place.
“Hockey is the beating heart of many communities across Canada,” Simon Laroche, Kraft Heinz Canada president, said in the presser.
“I’m looking forward to hearing from communities and, through their stories, seeing what this game means to them. At its core, that is what Kraft Hockeyville is all about – celebrating the game and those communities across the country.”
Above and beyond earning the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2024, winning $250,000 and hosting a pre-season NHL game, the winning community will also receive $10,000 in brand new hockey equipment to help more youth get involved in the sport, courtesy of the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund.