Sylvan Lakers erupted in cheers this past Saturday night when they gathered in the community centre for the latest Hockeyville announcement that brought them another $100,000.
“I had pins and needles in my legs and I was shaking,” said Mayor Sean McIntyre as he beamed over the broadcast that Sylvan Lake had become a finalist in the competition. Being in the top two for the Kraft Hockeyville Tournament means that Sylvan Lakers now have over $150,000 to put towards the re-construction of their arena which collapsed earlier this year.
“The money is just the icing on the cake for us. In a community our size, you don’t get the opportunity that often to come together for a cause that affects everyone,” said McIntyre.
“This is Hockeyville, but really what it means is an expression of community spirit.”
For Sylvan Lake to receive this prize money means that they can begin construction and expansion of the old arena. As an active lifestyle town, Sylvan Lake has been hit hard with the loss of the facility for large meetings, hockey games, Boy Scout meetings and more.
The new facility being built will also include a curling rink, new senior and childcare facilities, a walking track and conference spaces, officials say.
McIntyre said, “I’m just so incredibly grateful for everyone coming together.
“What this was really all about was people coming together when they really needed too, and Sylvan Lake has a history of that. It’s amazing for me to see the community I know and love come together in an effort like this – it’s so rewarding, it’s amazing.”
Leading up to the announcement, roughly 250 Sylvan Lakers gathered in the community centre to enjoy a live performance by local band West of the Fifth, hot dogs and a large projection screen broadcasting the Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers game.
The energy was palpable as the crowd donned Sylvan Lake Lakers jerseys, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers gear, and showed their support with signs and cheers for the town, in high hopes they would be moving onto the final bracket of the competition.
The announcement of the winner is on April 5.
“To see everyone get behind this effort is incredible, because it’s more than just hockey,” said McIntyre.
Like most in the room, the mayor could hardly contain his excitement, embracing his wife as soon as the announcement was called and eagerly matching the citizens’ joyous reactions.
“Although we could be crowned Hockeyville, this is Sylvan Lake passion and community spirit, and it’s amazing to be a part of.”
The final winner will be presented on April 5. Both communities of Sylvan Lake and Kingston, Nova Scotia will receive $100,000 but only one will receive a visit from CBC and the opportunity to host a 2014-15 NHL hockey game.