The Town of Assiniboia and their Southland Co-op Centre have put their hat in the ring to become this year’s Kraft Hockeyville champion.
If they win, a cheque for $250,000 will be presented to them, along with their town hosting an NHL pre-season game.
Steph VanDeSype, Assiniboia’s Recreation and Community Wellness manager says the big push to submit their application was to be able to host that NHL pre-season game.
“We know we are fully capable in our new rink; we have beautiful dressing rooms and lots of seating, and we would love to put Saskatchewan and Assiniboia on the map,” says VanDeSype.
Since its inception back in 2006, Saskatchewan has yet to win Kraft Hockeyville, so VanDeSype and the Town of Assiniboia want to change that. The closest finalist to Moose Jaw was Pense, who was one of four back in 2020.
Along with hosting a professional hockey game, the town would also get that $250,000 grand prize, which they have earmarked to go toward some additional arena upgrades at the Southland Co-op Centre.
“We want to put a digital banner all the way around the inside of the rink, which would add to the excitement of the game. As well, we also want to create a room in that rink where we would rent out equipment to those who aren’t able to afford hockey equipment. We don’t want financial difficulties to be a barrier for anybody when it comes to the sport.”
The town has already begun to help newcomers or those facing financial difficulties play hockey for a very reasonable cost. In their U7 program, Assiniboia Minor Hockey is only charging $50 for the registration fee. She says this has caused their numbers to increase over the past two years.
VanDeSype says that with the opening of their new rink back in September and now their Kraft Hockeyville submission, there’s a real buzz around the city.
“We know some of our change rooms are nicer than some of the ones in the NHL. We would love to showcase our facility but we would love to showcase Assiniboia, Moose Jaw, and Saskatchewan as a whole. If we did this NHL game a lot of people would be staying at hotels in Moose Jaw as well.”
VanDeSype’s job is to try to continue marketing not only their new arena but the Town of Assiniboia, which was one of the reasons why they decided to submit an application.
“What event would be bigger than an NHL game in our arena? Our big drive was to get things into our community that we’ve never seen before, some big events that we haven’t been capable of hosting before.”
Though winning the whole thing would be the ultimate goal, the town would be happy to be one of four finalists, which would allow them to have a video montage done of the rink and the town to bring awareness to the community.
Currently, Kraft Hockeyville is in the early stages of the competition. The nomination and rally period opened on Jan. 1 and will run until Feb. 19.
The goal is to get as many points as possible to become a finalist through their nomination story, sharing their story on Twitter, photos of the arena, notes, and emoji reactions on social media.
“We need people to submit their pictures and interact with the pictures with a like or love. That’s what we need from our community right now.”
VanDeSype concluded by saying that currently there are no fundraising events planned in support of Kraft Hockeyville but if they are chosen as one of the finalists then things will begin ramping up.
The nominate and rally portion of the competition is only phase one of the five-phase event.
The next phase is the judging period from Feb. 20 to Mar. 11. The top four announcements will take place on Mar. 11. The top four voting will open on Mar. 31 at 9:00 a.m. ET and end on Apr. 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET, followed by the winner announcement later that day.
To interact and submit photos for the Town of Assiniboia’s Southland Co-op Centre as this year’s Kraft Hockeyville champion visit their page HERE.