An entire region has answered the call.
On Jan. 22, the Northern Capitals submitted a nomination for Ernie Sam Memorial Arena in Nak’azdli Whut’en in the annual Kraft Hockeyville competition, which famously rewards $250,000 in upgrades and an NHL exhibition game in the winning community.
Almost 300 entries were posted to the outdoor facility’s community rally page as of the Sunday’s (Feb. 14) submission deadline.
An array of photos, videos and notes were posted about Ernie Sam from all walks of life.
Northern Capitals players, Prince George teams and others across northern B.C., regional politicians, Fort St. James residents and members of the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation, on whose territory the arena was built.
“Our media team put in a lot of effort to get the word out via our social media outlets,” said Cariboo Hockey spokesperson Caleb Wilson to PrinceGeorgeMatters in response to the entries.
The Caps are one of six members of the local six-step development program for regional prospects and beyond.
“Huge shoutout to Tyler Croome, Brendan Pawliw, Caden Fanshaw, and especially Will Peters, for all your efforts. It was great working alongside our local media outlets, especially PrinceGeorgeMatters, to help spread the word on what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Most of the content included photos from the three BC Winter Classic games Ernie Sam has hosted in the last number of years; the 2021 event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The Northern Capitals were part of history in January 2020 when they welcomed the Greater Vancouver Comets to Canada’s first outdoor contest at the female Under-18 AAA level.
So, now that everyone has had a chance to boast about the arena and its history, what happens now?
As of Monday (Feb. 15), Kraft Hockeyville has begun its ‘judging phase’ that will help narrow the hundreds of candidates down to four.
The judges consist of a panel of Sponsor representatives, as well as those from the NHL and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA), and are reviewing all eligible story submissions that must meet specific criteria:
- Depiction of the nominated community’s spirit and passion for hockey
- Description of the Arena’s importance to you, your family and your community
- Description of how the prize money would be used
A score will then be set to determine which arenas place the highest among rally rankings.
According to the competition’s rules, there must be at least one community represented in the East and West Divisions with the final four set to be announced on March 20.
B.C. is in the same category as Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon, and, in its history, three communities in our province have won, including Terrace in 2009.
The Terrace Sportsplex hosted the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders and, according to Hockeyville, received a record number of votes.
“We are hoping that we are selected to move onto the voting rounds, but right now it is all a waiting game,” adds Wilson.
“We would also like to thank all the players, coaching staff, family and friends, from all the Northern communities that supported us during this campaign! Hopefully, we are selected to the voting rounds and that is when the fun really begins!”
A second rally will take place between March 20 and April 9 for the four communities selected as finalists for the 15th edition of Kraft Hockeyville, with the official nation-wide voting period scheduled for April 9 at 6 a.m. Pacific time to April 10 at 2 p.m. Pacific time.
The 2021 winner is also expected to be revealed on April 10 later in the day during Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast.
The three communities who don’t win are set to receive a secondary prize of $25,000 in arena upgrades.
For further details on Kraft Hockeyville’s contest rules, you can visit its website.