The Town of Bentley fought hard to win Kraft’s 2011 Hockeyville competition, but in the end lost out to Conception Bay South, NL, which claimed the title and the $100,000 prize .
The grand prize is to be used on arena upgrades, as well as the honour of hosting a September 26 NHL pre-season game between the Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers.
Hundreds of Bentley residents packed the Red Deer arena for the announcement on Saturday night; and to watch the Bentley Generals take on the Fort St. John Flyers in game three of the McKenzie Cup finals series.
Organizers set up a big-screen near the zamboni entrance during the second intermission, which was streaming CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. As the HNIC game between the Canucks and Oilers went to intermission, chants of “Go! Bentley! Go!” filled the Red Deer Arena.
The broadcast cut back to CBC’s Ron MacLean and Cassie Campbell-Pascall, who announced Wolfe Island, ON finished fifth in the competition with 450,228 votes.
Seconds later, Campbell-Pascall opened an envelope and remarked: “Ron, you’re not going to like this one,” before turning over the card, which read “#4 BENTLEY, AB”.
“We did everything we could, and the community really came together on this, so we’re winners anyway,” said Bentley Mayor Joan Dickau.
Dickau also added Bentley’s arena has received nearly $250,000 in upgrades and renovations in the past few years; and the $25,000 the town was awarded for finishing in the top five of the Hockeyville competition will be put to good use at the rink.
Bentley finished with 467, 228 online votes, beating out Wolfe Island, ON by a tally of exactly 17,000.
With the nervous excitement gone from the Red Deer arena, the CBC broadcast cut to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York, who announced Conception Bay South, NL had won the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville competition. The Atlantic town of 24,000 residents managed to tally 995,368 votes, smothering St. Raymond, QC (534,325) and Mackenzie, BC (652,442).
“We knew we were up against some big communities, but how far we’ve gotten shows how big our support network extends, beyond Bentley,” said lead organizer of Bentley’s 2011 Hockeyville campaign, Angel Hand.
“It was a great ride and we had a lot of fun, and the whole community came together, so there was really nothing negative about this at all,” Hand said.