Earlier this year Canada watched as Sylvan Lake fought for votes, displayed tremendous amounts of community spirit and eventually won the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2014.
The impact of this title is huge, officials say. Being crowned Hockeyville gave Sylvan Lake over $100,000 to use for upgrades for a fallen arena as well as the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game with the Calgary Flames versus the Arizona Coyotes.
Tickets are currently being distributed by the Hockeyville committee volunteers for the Sept. 24th NHL exhibition game. The game starts at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Sylvan Lake Multiplex.
“The absolute best part about being named Hockeyville has been the community spirit that was built up and that was necessary to make it this far. When the arena fell, our community came together – no amount of money or award could ever equal that,” said Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre.
“Carrying the name of Hockeyville is a reward to Sylvan Lakers for their community spirit. It is evident in the massive volunteer efforts, which have been staggering. I can’t say enough about the selfless giving and time invested by numerous volunteers for Hockeyville.”
When Sylvan Lake lost their old arena, the town lost not only their ice, but also a landmark of their community. As a town known for its abundance in sporting activities, the community was hit hard with the loss of such an important piece of infrastructure, he said.
Now, the town is able to put the devastation behind them and look forward to the opening of the new NexSource Centre. Mayor McIntyre said, “The new facility will effectively link together the existing arena and pool.”
He explained the facilities would be connected by a central lobby, located on what is currently 48 St.
The new arena is planned to have two NHL size ice surfaces, a curling facility, a running track, a pool, a senior’s centre and a children’s area. According to McIntyre, conceptual plans are hoped to be completed early in fall.
Sylvan Lake received an outpouring of support from neighbouring communities following the collapse of their arena. During the voting process in March, thousands of votes were submitted to show support for the town.
“Now, long after emergency that was the arena collapse in January, our neighbours are still here for us.”
Graham Parsons, president of the Sylvan Lake Hockey Camp said Hockeyville is not just about a game. “It’s so much more than just a game – it’s an entire community experience. We want to put on the biggest party that Hockeyville has ever seen.”
In addition to the exhibition game, there will be a number of events in the week leading up to the game. On Sunday, a free community celebration will be held at Centennial Park on Sylvan Lake beach from noon until 4 p.m.
The famous Stanley Cup will be in Sylvan Lake from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday along with a BBQ, kids bouncy castles, Kraft tasting tents and a live entertainment stage.
NHL Alumni will also join the community party on Sunday, visiting some senior facilities in Sylvan Lake and even visiting some of the schools in the Town.
“It’s going to be a big day. It’s much more than a game – it’s a community event. Everything is free and we are really looking forward to this.”