What is known is that the Beardy’s Memorial Arena in Saskatchewan will be undergoing some upgrades soon. But residents of the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation are now anxiously awaiting March 31 to find out whether their rink will also host a National Hockey League pre-season game later this year.
The Aboriginal community made the Top 5 list in the annual Kraft Hockeyville contest. By cracking the Top 5 list, the community will receive $25,000 to upgrade its rink, which was built exactly two decades ago in 1992.
The winning community will be announced on CBC during a Hockey Night In Canada broadcast. That community will receive $100,000 in arena upgrades and will have the honor of hosting a NHL exhibition contest.
This marks the sixth year of the Kraft Hockeyville contest, which was developed by CBC Sports and is sponsored by Kraft Foods, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.
”We are the only First Nation in the history of Hockeyville to advance to this level,” said Kevin Seesequasis, the spokesperson for the Beardy’s bid. “That’s something interesting in itself.”
Newfoundland’s Conception Bay won the 2011 contest. The Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets participated in a pre-season contest in that community this past September.
A total of 227 communities entered the Hockeyville contest this year. By early March this group was whittled down to 15. And then on March 17 the Top 5 finalists were announced.
Kurt Seesequasis, who is a local councillor and Kevin’s cousin, is the one who submitted the Beardy’s bid.
After that local residents were invited to submit videos or photos to show their passion for hockey as well as to explain why their community should win the contest.
Once the Top 15 communities were announced people were able to vote as many times as they wanted, either online or by phone, for the location they wanted to move on.
And when those votes were tabulated and the Top 5 were announced during a Hockey Night in Canada telecast, another four-day voting period followed.
Though voting closed on March 20, the results will not be announced until the end of the month.
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