Bentley in final five for national title

  • Mar. 23, 2011 3:58 p.m.

Joy was unrestrained in Bentley when the town found out it was one of the five finalists for the Kraft Hockeyville title for 2011 on the weekend.

Voting for the final winner finished Monday evening and there’s a lot of optimism the town could win the big one. But everyone has to wait till the big winner is announced April 2, live on Hockey Night in Canada.

“You know what I think,” says Angel Hand, a member of Bentley’s Hockeyville Committee. “I think we’re going to do really well.”

The winner is decided by phone-in votes and Hand says “There were a lot of people voting. People spent the whole day (Monday) voting. It was fabulous.

“People sat there for hours voting. It’s been a really neat contest.”

Hand helped organize several voting sessions and voted many times herself. Voting was restricted to March 20-21, but there’s no limit on the number of times anyone could vote.

This is the third year that hockey-crazy Bentley entered the Hockeyville competition and Hand says, “Third time is the charm.” She says April 2 could be a really big day in Bentley, because not only is there a CBC camera crew on hand to shoot the town’s reaction to the announcement of the final Hockeyville winner, but the triple AAA Bentley Generals (which won a national championship in 2009) could be winning a provincial title the same night.

Hand says planning is underway for a fun day of activities on April 2 that should involve the whole town.

Bentley easily defeated Brandon, Manitoba 242,055 votes to 77,641 to win top spot in the West last weekend. Now it is up against four other relatively small communities across Canada: Mackenzie, B.C; Wolfe Island, Ontario; Saint-Raymond, Quebec and Conception Bay South in Newfoundland.

As one of the final five Bentley is already smiling because each finalist will receive $25,000 to upgrade its arena. Bentley’s arena was built by volunteers in the 1960s and Bentley mayor Joan Dickau says the money will be well spent.

Kraft Hockeyville is a reality TV contest in which communities across Canada compete to demonstrate their passion and commitment to ice hockey. The final winner will get $100,000 for its arena, a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast and an NHL pre-season game in their community.

On Feb. 16 and 17 a CBC crew visited Bentley to see how passionate the community was about hockey and Dickau said they were very impressed. Virtually the whole town turned out and there was endless hockey at all levels from peewee to the triple AAA Allan Cup contending Bentley Generals.