Hockeyville …. is Terrace, B.C.
Typically, a third-place finish in a national competition contested by more than 7,100 communities across the country would be nothing to sneeze at. But last Saturday night, as local hockey fans congregated at the Elmira Arena to watch Hockey Night in Canada on the big screen, it was cause for many long faces.
“Of course, there was a little initial disappointment that we didn’t win, but I was really pleased with the way people pitched in and got out there and voted; it was a great community effort,” said local Hockeyville organizer Graham Snyder.
“Like any hockey game – that’s what it’s all about, really; we got to play for the big prize and we gave it our best effort and enjoyed doing it.”
When you consider the hundreds of communities that jumped into the fray when CBC’s Kraft Hockeyville competition kicked off, Woolwich didn’t fare too badly in reaching the final five, joined by Terrace, Humbolt, SK, Harbour Grace, N.L. and Thetford Mines, Que.
Voting closed on Mar. 4, leaving residents who had supported the township in its bid for hockey glory to wait a few days for the results. In anticipation, many gathered at the youth drop-in centre in Elmira shortly after 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Woolwich, Terrace garnered the highest number of votes with 1.9 million, followed by Humboldt, which came a close second with 1.8 million; Woolwich finished third with 1,163,142.
As a result, the northern British Columbia community of 12,000 will claim the grand prize of $100,000 in arena upgrades, and the chance to host an NHL pre-season game between the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders on Sept. 14.
Having endured economic hardships due to troubles in the forestry industry, with the closing of a number of mills, the community recently opened the Terrace Sportsplex after years of fundraising efforts. That story was told on a segment of Hockey Night in Canada.
“I thought Terrace, B.C. did a great job: their province got behind it – they really seemed to get into the spirit of things and they have a real definite need for facilities out there, from what I could see, and also I think that was the case with the Newfoundland entry as well,” said Snyder.
“They were all deserving … [those] that were in the final five.”
As a finalist in the national competition, Woolwich will receive $25,000 for upgrades to its arena. The Hockeyville committee and township staff have yet to decide where the money will go.
Despite the fact that Terrace earned the top honour in the competition, locals appear convinced that their own community, too, is Hockeyville.
“Certainly, yes, we are. I think we really captured the spirit of the contest and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the people that were involved and were out there doing the decorating and doing the voting. Everybody really enjoyed getting behind it and it was a really good experience,” said Snyder.