Ste Anne finalist for Kraft Hockeyville
The future of the Maurice Chaput arena in Ste Anne could be in the hands of hockey fans from across Canada.
The town was named one of four finalists for Kraft Hockeyville. If Ste Anne wins, the arena will receive $250,000 in upgrades and will host an NHL pre-season game.
Ste Anne recreation services manager Sarah Normandeau said the ice plant inside the arena is on its last legs, with the community needing to shorten hockey seasons last year and this year due to mechanical issues.
“To see all of our community minor hockey kids travel to a neighbouring community arena to do their tryouts and their pre-skates, and form their teams and hope that we can open our doors was painful for me,” Normandeau said, adding she grew up skating in the arena.
“We started mid-October (this year), three weeks late. The year before we cut off some of our weeks because we had challenges in the arena.”
Normandeau said the plant’s brine system, compressors, chiller and other components will need to be refurbished before they can open the doors again next season, which will cost over $300,000 and should extend the life of the arena 20 years.
“There’s a direct correlation between recreational opportunities and keeping kids off the streets, out of trouble and keeping them engaged and off their screens,” she said.
“We’re in big trouble, because if we don’t get this plant fixed, we won’t be able to open our doors this year.”
In addition to potentially winning the big prize, the three runner-up communities will receive $25,000 and $10,000 for hockey equipment from the NHL player’s association.
Ste Anne will be competing against Maple Ridge, B.C., West Lorne, Ont. and Saint-Anselme, Que. for the title of hockeyville.
Normandeau hopes voters will look at Ste Anne’s needs behind the scenes before fixing things like washrooms and improving accessibility.
“It’s really something we had to have yesterday,” she said, referring to the ice plant.
“We have all those issues as well, but we need to fix this before we can do anything else.”
Voting will take place for only 36 hours, between March 31 and April 1, with the winner announced live on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast April 1. Ste Anne will host a community rally that night as well to watch the results roll in. Voting will take place online at hockeyville.kraftcanada.ca.
“It makes me a little bit anxiety-ridden,” Normandeau said on the short voting period.
“It’s quick, it’s fast, but it’s also exciting and not a huge waiting period. It’s one huge rally.”
Normandeau said the town is waiting for the results from the hockeyville vote before making any contingency plans for next year.
In 2021, St Adolphe was named one of the four finalists for the hockeyville title, winning $35,000 for rink upgrades. A Manitoba community has never won the title of Kraft Hockeyville.