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St. Adolphe in Kraft Hockeyville Final Four

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Hockeyville Crop
The St. Adolphe Kraft Hockeyville rally committee. Kevin Mamchuk

On April 10, 2021, St. Adolphe hopes to become the first Manitoba community to win the Kraft Hockeyville grand prize of $250,000 in arena upgrades, as well as the opportunity to host an NHL preseason hockey game.

St. Adolphe was entered by local hockey mom, coach, player, and manager Lorrie Stade. Stade, who is also a teacher, nominated the St. Adolphe Community Club and Arena after their ice plant broke down in January and mould was found in one of the building’s walls.

“I’d seen advertisements for the Hockeyville contest in years past and thought, if anything ever happens and we need some money for our arena, it would be a cool community-building experience to do,” says Stade. “Then I was watching a Jets game at the end of January and I saw another ad for Kraft Hockeyville. And our ice plant had just broken. And then we heard about the mould in the wall and how the wall was crumbling. So we had no ice and no use of the building and I knew we needed to do something.”

Stade says she is relatively new to the area, but since she and her entire family are involved in hockey, she wanted to try to do something to help.

“I’ve been a hockey manager for years, organizing games, organizing equipment and jerseys, and ice time, and the 50/50,” she says. “I play hockey in the hockey moms league and both my kids play. My son plays in the Atom age group and my daughter in Novice. And my husband plays, too. There’s so many that play hockey in our town. There’s even a grandpa league.”

Learning about the mould problem just a short time after the bad news about the broken-down ice plant was almost too much to take—especially in a year compounded by so much loss due to COVID.

“We had begun doing socially distanced use of the arena in the fall, with separate entering and exits and cleaning and more. We got almost a month of use, from September to October, and then in November COVID shut it down completely,” says Stade. “In February we were supposed to return to play, but we couldn’t because we learned we had no ice. It really disappointed a lot of people. It even screwed over a lot of city teams and other city groups, because they use the ice. We’ve got many groups from the south side of Winnipeg who utilize the ice.”

The pandemic has already made it difficult enough to cope with these sorts of problems.

“This town just loves hockey and we could really use the funding this year especially,” she adds. “Of course during COVID, a lot of our other ways of fundraising have been severely limited. So I had to be creative and had the idea of joining the contest.”

The contest began in January with participants submitting stories and photos to earn points for their community. To start the nomination, at least one community member needed to submit a story about why the community loves hockey and what they would do with the prize money.

The committee says they plan to use the money to rebuild the walls and repair the ice plant instead of purchasing a new one outright. If there is any money left over, it will be applied toward general arena upgrades.

“An ice plant is quite expensive,” Stade explains. “We think can repair the one we have, even though it is rickety and old, but a replacement would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. So if we can effectively repair, we will. Then we’ll do the supports in the wall. General arena repairs are something you plan for and fundraise for anyway, so we’ve got quite a list going. We’ve been trying to make the building more accessible over the last few years. We’ve installed ramps and an elevator. Soon we’d like to expand our change rooms offerings to make a female change room. Our scoreboard and sound system also need updating.”

After Stade got the nomination going, others from the community chimed in to submit their own stories and pictures. Before too long, there was an outpouring of support—a true community effort.

“First I interviewed the people who originally built the rink and I wrote up the answers into a story and I submitted it,” says Stade. “It was the neatest thing, going through all of the responses from our town. Then the general community helped by submitting their own posts, and liking or responding to the stories and photos. All of those interactions turn into points and you needed a certain amount of points to progress. So we put up a sign at the gas station and put it up on the community club website and started a Facebook group.”

After the town achieved a significant number of points, Kraft announced its four finalists. That announcement came down on March 20, and to everyone’s delight St. Adolphe was among them. The other three are Bobcaygeon, Ontario; Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick; and Lumsden, Saskatchewan.

Kraft has been running the Hockeyville contest for 14 years, but to day a community in Manitoba has never won. Stade feels this makes the effort even more special, as it’s an opportunity for the entire province to put their communal love of hockey behind the St. Adolphe bid.

Indeed, St. Adolphe is the smallest community still in the running.

“I love that about Manitoban communities,” says Stade. “We always help. We ask, do our neighbours need help? And we just go and do it. We say yup and we get it done.”

Stade points out that surrounding communities and even the south end of Winnipeg all benefit when one town’s arena is improved, because other leagues rent ice time when they can’t find it closer to home. And neighbouring teams will benefit from having a nice place to come and play against the home team.

So she is asking all surrounding communities to vote online at krafthockeyville.ca on April 9–10.

“It’s a short window,” Stade says. “And it’s unlimited voting, which is an interesting way to do it. You can vote as many times as you want.”

The community is continuing to rally behind the contest committee, who has been generating more and more ideas of how to include as many people as possible in the experience.

“Our restaurants in town are also joining in the fun by doing Kraft-themed food,” she says. “The Pi will be doing Kraft Dinner flavour on their wings on April 5, and then Friday the 9th will be Kraft Dinner poutine. The St. Adolphe Drive-In will be doing a Kraft burger; they’re doing peanut butter and bacon on a burger. They’ve been so awesome. The whole premise is they’ll cook for you so you can spend the day voting.”

Even the RM of Ritchot is celebrating all the community involvement surrounding Hockeyville. Amber Mamchuk, Director of Recreation Services, says she’s really excited about all the participation so far.

“We heard they were doing this and then it really took off,” says Mamchuk. “I was amazed to watch it unfold and see how many people got behind rallying behind St. Adolphe, telling stories from previous years and activities at the arena. As time went on, we saw so many people were posting, but we weren’t sure where we were in the standings. Then we saw we had made the top four and it became even bigger.”

Mamchuk says the credit should all go to Stade and the committee behind putting in the rallying effort.

“The way our facilities operate in Ritchot is they are run by not-for-profit boards, so in a sense they’re a bit more independent from the municipality,” Mamchuk adds. “We do offer a budget for operating support, but the community really puts their heart into the place. There’s a really great team behind all of this. They’ve done a phenomenal job of engaging the community and everyone would just be elated if they won.”

When asked if the RM building will be decorated prior to April 9, Mamchuk says, “We haven’t thought up anything yet, but the committee is ordering a bunch of signs, so we are looking forward to show our support by putting up some signs and encourage everyone to get the word out and especially give of their time to vote on April 9 and 10.”

Even though the entire push has been done virtually and Manitoba is still under public health restrictions that limit group sizes, the committee members are determined to help everyone feel involved.

“Even though this is a virtual thing, we’re doing what we can,” says Stade. “We are all over social media and right now we’re asking people to decorate their windows, doors, and lawns. And we’re giving away prizes for those who have decorations. Take a picture between now and April 7 and we’ll enter you for a prize. Decorate your lawn and snap a picture and send it to us in some way!”

For more information

Pictures of home decorations can be sent to hawkeyville2021@gmail.com, and shared by mentioning “St. Adolphe Hockeyville” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.

Communities are encouraged to go online to vote starting at 9:00 a.m. on April 9. Voting closes at 5:00 p.m. on April 10, at which point the winner will be announced.

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