Bentley a contender to win Kraft Hockeyville

Whether it’s Oldtimers, AAA, women’s, men’s or pee wee league, Bentley, population 1,132, is crazy about hockey.

The town has entered the Kraft Hockeyville competition before but this time its chances are looking better than ever with a CBC crew in town last Wednesday night and Thursday (officially dubbed Hockey Day in the town) to video some of the hockey fever engulfing the community.

Bentley, located about 30 kms northwest of Red Deer, is up against 21 other towns and cities in Alberta and dozens more across Canada, but is going all out to demonstrate their love of the national game.

Mayor Joan Dickau, in her seventh year in the position, says, “It was a big day. There was hockey at the arena (home to the Bentley Hockey Academy) and hockey at the Bentley School. And I mean all sorts of hockey; floor hockey, street hockey, Wii hockey, even hockey scrabble. There were guest instructors at the Academy in the morning, then free grilled cheese sandwiches (with Kraft Singles) for lunch and then non-stop hockey games, with all levels of play, including the Allan Cup contending Bentley Generals, all afternoon and into the evening.”

Residents were asked to attend as many events as possible and be loud and proud in demonstrating their hockey passion. Wearing hockey jerseys and decorating or painting everything from faces to the family dog was encouraged.

“We’re pretty lucky to have a town like this,” says Dickau. “It’s a great community. You should go to the Kraft Hockeyville web site and read some of the stories posted by people from Bentley. There are some awesome stories there, stories from the heart.

“We’re very confident (we can win), we certainly hope so, but we won’t know until March how we’re doing.”

The mayor also points out that the Bentley Arena, built by volunteers back in the 60s, could use some upgrading, which a win would provide.

The 10 finalists (two from each region: Pacific, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic) for the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville title will be announced on CBC on March 8 and voting by the audience to select the top five (one from each region) ends March 13. Voting to select a winner from the top five is on March 19.

Now in it’s sixth season Kraft Hockeyville is a reality television contest in which communities across Canada compete in demonstrations of their commitment to the sport of ice hockey. Based on a town or city’s community spirit, originality and passion for hockey, the winner gets $100,000 to upgrade the local arena, a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in their community and an NHL pre-season game in their community arena. Other finalists in the top five get $25,000 for their arena and a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in their community.