With a place secured among Hockeyville’s top five finalists, Woolwich is going all out to show its hockey spirit to the rest of the country this weekend.
Woolwich beat out Lincoln, Ont. by a margin of less than 4,000 votes, 260,669 to 256,746.
The race in Ontario was tighter than the Western and Atlantic regions; Terrace, B.C. beat out La Broquerie, Manitoba by 44,000 votes and Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, beat out Stanley, New Brunswick by 85,000 votes.
Hockeyville organizer Graham Snyder said the committee is working on strategies for the next round of voting, but the immediate concern is putting on a good show for the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
“This is our one and only chance to showcase our community to the viewers across the country and we want to make a good impression,” Snyder said.
The committee is encouraging people to “beard up” for the remaining weeks of the competition, with fake hair if necessary for the follicularly-challenged.
“That’s a playoff tradition and we’re playing for the cup,” Snyder said. “If we can’t grow them, we get some enhancements of some kind.”
CBC cameras arrived Thursday evening, preparing for tonight’s (Saturday) Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. Cassie Campbell-Pascal, former captain of the Canadian women’s team, and former NHL player Steve Thomas are on hand taking part in a range of events.
Mike Dodson, producer of Kraft Hockeyville, said he enjoys the chance to get outside the six NHL cities. Hockeyville brings home the importance of the game to people in communities of all sizes, Dodson said.
“It matters everywhere across the country. This is Canada’s game.”
Dodson has been producing Hockey Night in Canada for the past six years, but working outside an NHL arena adds the element of surprise.
During last year’s broadcast from Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland, there was a wedding happening at the same time. The entire wedding party stopped by the arena and was out on the ice, dancing. The following week in Kingsville, Ontario, there was a marriage proposal during the broadcast.
There may not be any proposals in Woolwich, but the Hockeyville committee is hoping there will be plenty of excitement all the same.
Events kicked off Friday with a floor hockey game at Park Manor School, a pep rally at Elmira District Secondary School and ball hockey on the West Montrose covered bridge. A parade from EDSS to the arena at 6 p.m. was followed by a skills clinic with members of the Olympic sledge hockey team.
Today’s events start with a pancake breakfast at the arena, followed by an OMHA skills competition for midget boys and girls at 9 a.m.
The Hockey Night in Canada broadcast opens with a live segment leading into the pre-game show at 6:30. After the live ceremonial puck drop, CBC will go to the Toronto-Pittsburgh game, while minor hockey action continues in Elmira.
During the first intermission of the Calgary-Phoenix game, events from Friday and Saturday will be showcased in a two-minute music video. The second intermission will see the unveiling of the next finalist. After the second game ends, in the early hours of Sunday morning, a Hockeyville spokesperson will make the pitch for Woolwich.
Committee member Sherrie Goss emphasized that the weekend’s event aren’t just for families in hockey.
“Bring your friends, bring your neighbours, bring your dog,” she said. “It’s to the benefit of the whole community, not just the people in hockey.”
With a space in the top five, Woolwich is guaranteed $25,000, along with the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. The winner of the grand prize gets $100,000 for arena upgrades, hosts an NHL pre-season game and is featured on an hour-long broadcast on CBC television.