Between the first and second period Sylvan Lake hockey fans went wild when their image was playing on the big screen TV outside the Sylvan Lake Multiplex on Wednesday during the Kraft Hockeyville celebration. Inside the Multiplex the Arizona Coyotes and the Calgary Flames were playing a preseason game.

Between the first and second period Sylvan Lake hockey fans went wild when their image was playing on the big screen TV outside the Sylvan Lake Multiplex on Wednesday during the Kraft Hockeyville celebration. Inside the Multiplex the Arizona Coyotes and the Calgary Flames were playing a preseason game.

Hockeyville: more than a game

SYLVAN LAKE — This was the centre of the hockey universe on Wednesday.

SYLVAN LAKE — This was the centre of the hockey universe on Wednesday.

If it was ever in doubt, the appearance of NHL broadcasting legend Don Cherry at a special Kraft Hockeyville-organized pre-game tilt between the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes at the town arena made it official.

Nattily attired as always — this time in a red and green plaid suit — Cherry wasted no time in making friends.

“This place here is Canada as far as I’m concerned,” Cherry proclaimed to thunderous cheers from a standing room-only crowd of about 1,000.

Outside, at least another 1,000 gathered to watch the game on a big screen from the comfort of their lawn chairs. The area around the rink was turned into a giant street party, with games, food, music and plenty of free swag courtesy of the Calgary Flames and Kraft Canada.

“It’s awesome. We’re really loving it,” said Angela Kosolofski, who brought her son, niece and nephew down. They came prepared with lawn chair and a blanket for the big game, which started shortly before 5:30 p.m.

Brandee O’Toole was one of a group of nine adults and youngsters that were gathering downtown.

She was one of the lucky ticket winners and passed it on to her 16-year-old daughter who was “totally pumped” to get in to the game.

“She’s taking her boyfriend, who’s a big Calgary Flames fan.”

Jon Caines was even luckier. He was walking around the site with his son Trent, five, and daughter Hannah, nine, when an NHL representative offered them free game tickets.

“We’re having a great time of course,” said Jon. “It’s exciting.”

The family also took in last Sunday’s Fun Day, which drew about 1,000. Hannah said the bouncy castle was her favourite activity but has enjoyed the whole experience.

“I like how the town came all together,” she said.

Brandon Slade, 10, was another lucky game ticket holder after his mom’s name was chosen in the lottery.

“It was great because it’s a one-in-a-lifetime-thing,” he said as he headed into the arena.

Zach Daniels, 13, was also in the stands.

“I thought it was cool to see the NHL on our ice,” said the Bantam AA player.

“It’s awesome. TV doesn’t even come close to watching it live.”

Sylvan Lake was crowned Kraft Hockeyville by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a ceremony last April.

The town received more than 2.5 million votes defeating runner up Kingston, N.S. by 108,164 votes.

It was the result of a huge community volunteer effort. At the centre of the town’s bid was its compelling tale of misfortune — losing one of its two arenas to a snow-laden roof collapse in January.

Gayle White came to Wednesday’s game prepared in hopes of catching Don Cherry’s eye. She sported a large sandwich board that said: “Don Cherry you tell no lies when it comes to hockey you are so wise.”

Her homage to “Grapes” did not go unnoticed by the colourful personality, who pointed her out to TV cameras.

White said Hockeyville and the collapse of the arena showed the community’s spirit. Down to one arena, families scrambled to car pool to take youngsters to surrounding arenas.

“The town really came together.”

Besides the perk of hosting a pre-season NHL game, the town received $100,000, which has already been earmarked for a new $30-million multiplex.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre was enthusiastic about the local response to its challenges.

“It’s totally incredible. The volunteers have done an amazing job on bringing the community together,” said the mayor, decked out in a Kraft Hockeyville souvenir game jersey.

“We’re so grateful for the game. We’re so grateful for the $100,000. But the real win, the real benefit to us is the community spirit.”

Kraft Canada’s Irene Daley applauded Sylvan Lake’s effort.

“I’m from Edmonton and just coming back to Alberta and seeing the passion and spirit of Sylvan Lake is just incredible,” said Daley, director of portfolio marketing.

“For them to support a program like Kraft Hockeyville, is really a testament to this community and how passionate they are about hockey, and more importantly, how passionate they are about their community.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canopy Growth Corp. will deepen its U.S. presence by launching four sparkling cannabidiol waters, shown in a handout photo, there before possible federal legalization. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canopy Growth
Canopy Growth launches first CBD drinks in U.S. as legalization talk intensifies

Quatreau sparkling waters will be sold through e-commerce

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andre Penner
Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 needs better promotion: experts

National Advisory Committee on Immunization makes recommendations

A man receives his COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Olympic Stadium marking the beginning of mass vaccination in the Province of Quebec based on age in Montreal, on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Most Canadians confident federal vaccine rollout is back on track: poll

Fifty-six per cent of respondents confident in vaccine supply

Air Transat and Air Canada aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
International air travel a fraction of pre-pandemic times

International air travel during pandemic less than a 10th of what it was before COVID-19

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo, former NBA player Shaquille O’ Neal is interviewed on the red carpet for Shaq’s Fun House in Miami. O’Neal is set to perform in his first competitive match when he teams in All Elite Wrestling with Jade Cargill in a mixed tag to take on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet at Daily’s Place on an episode of “Dynamite,” Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Shaq Attack: O’Neal ready to rumble in tag match for AEW

O’Neal’s first competitive match with All Elite Wrestling

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, center, speaks during a Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, Pool)
Tokyo Olympics add 12 women to executive board to reach 42 per cent

Board will now have 19 women among its 45 members

The Stratford Festival’s Festival Theatre is shown in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Stratford Festival plans next stages with two outdoor summer venues

Ontario festival productions set for between late June and the end of September

Treena Mielke
From record player to CD

When I first began dating my husband, he drove a little old… Continue reading

Opinion
Ottawa banks on Big Pharma making Canada pandemic-proof

Liberal fireball François-Philippe Champagne may be brand new to his portfolio as… Continue reading

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones
Health: Keep blood pressure under control

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the things you think you… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Most Read