Maskwacis may not have made the final two in Kraft Hockeyville but the community had a heck of a run.
“There was a hockey dad who voted 3,200 times,” said Tara Cutarm, communications manager for Ermineskin Cree Nation. “There were others who voted well over 1,000 times.”
The community also came together at a voting party at the local high school and a jersey day the following Monday saw the community awash in hockey colours to encourage people to get out the vote.
“There was excitement. There were people coming together, working together for a positive goal for our community.
“It was like Hockeyville fever.”
Even Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins got in on the fun, writing and performing a song based on Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Game” that he posted online in support of the community’s bid.
Cutarm says just making the final 10 gave the community a boost.
“When they showed that on the Hockey Night in Canada TV broadcast a lot of people mentioned online that they were proud to be from Maskwacis.
“Seeing that, our community being represented like that, just gave them such a sense of pride.
“It really raised their morale and their community spirit and pride in their community.”
The small community of Ituna, Sask., about 165 km north of Regina won for the West and O’Leary, PEI will represent the East. Both finalists win $100,000 and the overall winner will host an NHL pre-season game. The winner will be announced on April 1.
By making the final 10, Maskwacis’s Ermine Cree Nation will receive $25,000 towards upgrades to the Neyaskweyahk Arena. Didsbury also made the final 10 and will get $25,000 for the Didsbury Memorial Complex.
Cutarm said the money will likely go towards dressing room improvements. Another much-needed project would see wifi coverage improved so cellphones can be used inside the arena.
“I think that’s important for the youth especially because when they go to these places they like to share what’s going on.”
But it was never just about the money for community leaders.
“It was just the experience of the community was just a great and wonderful experience for everybody. We really got a lot of this even though we didn’t get the grand prize.”