“I'm so thrilled that Middleton has made the Top 10, but I'm not surprised at all,” said Maryanne Wagstaff who, with husband Steve, submitted the Middleton nomination more than two months ago. “The memories folks have shared, the photos, the history - this is not just a contest for us, this is our chance to show the country that our smalltown rink has shaped the future of so many of our youth, and that a few can make a huge impact.”
Wagstaff and hundreds of other Middleton supporters were on the Middleton for Hockeyville Facebook page most of Saturday evening. After the first period of the Calgary versus Colorado game, the 10 coast-to-coast picks were named as the clock struck midnight.
“The sheer number of people that have joined our group and showed their support is incredibly impressive and I'm so proud to call Middleton my home and have my children wear the Middleton Mustang jersey,” said Wagstaff.
On March 21 voting begins at approximately 11 p.m. EST following the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast announcement. Voting is open to and including March 23. Legal residents of Canada, 13 years of age and older, can begin voting on KHV2015.ca for their favourite Top 10 entry. The two communities (one per region) that receive the most votes during Voting Period #1 will be determined as the Top 2 Finalists for a chance to win the Grand Prize. That round of voting is from March 28 to 30 and the winner will be announced on April 4.
Besides Middleton, the Top 10 includes Haliburton, ON; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL; St-Joseph De Beauce, QC; North Saanich, BC; Dawson Creek, BC; Morinville, AB; Morden, MB; Bonnyville, AB; and Chatham, ON.
“We’re overwhelmed with the stories and dedication to the importance of arenas in communities across Canada,” said Jack Hewitt, vice-president of portfolio marketing, Kraft Canada. “We’re committed to investing in these arenas. They are fundamental for the future of hockey in Canada and we know that communities build hockey and hockey builds communities. Get voting, Canada!”
Each of the 10 communities will receive funds to improve their local arenas. From change room repairs to access to better ice surfaces, heart-warming stories of much needed upgrades were shared from across Canada, showcasing the immeasurable impact local arenas have on shaping community spirit and keeping the game alive.
“What a great feeling,” said rink manager Albert Johnson after the Saturday night CBC announcement. “First the Spirit of Adrien Belliveau was with us throughout the process and will continue to be with us - thanks Adrien! Secondly we have an absolutely tremendous chair in Maryanne Wagstaff who worked tirelessly over the past two-and-one-half months and never lost track of the ultimate goal.”
Belliveau was a rink volunteer, including head of the rink commission, for many years and was well known as the arena’s skate sharpener as well. Belliveau died in 2014 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was honoured at the arena on Feb. 5 as dozens of people walked out on the ice and placed hockey sticks on the ice in his honour.
Johnson also had kudos for a host of others who helped pull the community together to show the true hockey spirit of the small Nova Scotia town.
“Our techie person Amanda White is unceasing in her work on our behalf,” said Johnson. “Lynda Fairn has been our Chief Poster and never tires of encouraging so many others to post - such as Shelley Williams, Debbie Wotton, Tammy Belanger, Coach Emeritus of MRHS (Middleton Regional High School) and Rink Historian Albert Peppard and our Cartoonist Neil Fisher - and so many others have led us to this part of our success. Now we have a week to marshal our voters for what lies ahead.”
Johnson also praised the Nictaux Fireettes for their amazing Kraft meal Feb. 8 as part of the many community events, and K-Rock and all the individuals and businesses and service clubs that donated and bought signs, decals and T-shirts.
“All the great stories, videos and pictures over the past two months attest to the importance of the arena to both young and old,” Johnson said. “We just have to be like Mr. Positive Tim Gillis and continue to believe - "In it to win it!"
“We couldn't have done this without the support of every single person who took the time to post and attend events,” said Wagstaff. “A huge thank you goes out to all those that helped get us here and especially to my fellow committee members. Your work has paid off. Now it's in our hands - let's take it all the way. Voting begins on March 21st and Middleton needs your support now more than ever. Stock up on coffee and get those fingers ready to vote, vote, vote.”
Bea MacLean of Inverness posted to the Middleton, Nova Scotia For Kraft Hockeyville 2015 Facebook page minutes after the Top 10 were named.
“On behalf of our town of Inverness NS, we would like you to know you have our support, and we will be voting for our fellow Nova Scotians,” she said. “It's such a wonderful thing to see a small community come together for the love of the game. Great job Middleton.”
During the last two months, Middleton considered Inverness a serious contender for one of the five eastern Top 10 spots. But the two communities wished each other well in the early going and continued a friendly rivalry throughout.
About Kraft Hockeyville
In its ninth season, Kraft Hockeyville 2015, in partnership with the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association, is offering:
· One grand prize of hosting an NHL Pre-Season Game, $100,000 for arena upgrades and the title of Kraft Hockeyville;
· $100,000 in arena upgrades for the second place community; and
· $25,000 for each of the remaining eight prize winners.