March 19, 2017 9:09 pm
Updated: March 20, 2017 3:32 pm

Ituna, Sask. top-two finalist for Kraft Hockeyville

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Out of nearly 3,000 communities across the country, Ituna, Sask. has been chosen as one of two finalists for Kraft Hockeyville 2017.

Both top two finalists, Ituna and O’Leary, P.E.I., will receive $100,000 towards arena upgrades. The grand winner will also be given the title of “Kraft Hockeyville 2017” as well as the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game.

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“It almost makes you speechless at the time, and at the same time you want to scream as loud as you can just to celebrate with everybody that was here,” said Sean Trefiak, who nominated Ituna for Hockeyville.

“Tears of happiness. We couldn’t have thought in a million years that when we sat down that night to write a nomination that this is where it could end up,” said Tamara Trefiak, who also nominated Ituna for Hockeyville.

The community said its 55-year-old rink is in dire need of repair. It plans to put its funding towards a new arena that includes separate change rooms for both girls and boys.

“We’ve got plans in the works, and we’ve been fundraising for a few years now,” Sean said. “This whole competition is just kickstarting a whole new kind of effort from the community and surrounding areas.”

If the arena is left in its current state, players will have to travel outside of the community to play hockey, Sean said. It might also make it unaffordable for some families.

“This means the world to our community. It will help keep hockey here,” Tamara said.

Sean hopes hosting a pre-season NHL game will help inspire the next generation of players from Ituna.

“It’s not every day that you can go to see an NHL game, to get one to come right to your town or close by. There’s going to be lots of kids that are just so excited,” Sean said.

Ituna Mayor Doug Scully is calling for people from across the province to vote.

“As many votes as we can get, as many times as you can. We need all the help we can get — we’re only a town of 700 here,” he said.

“Even though we’re small, we’re mighty, so we’re hoping to bring this home,” Tamara said.

Ituna has one of the province’s last remaining Deinar-style natural rinks. Because it wouldn’t be frozen in time for the NHL pre-season, if the community wins, the game will likely be held in Melville or Yorkton.

Wilkie, Sask. made the top ten finalists and will receive $25,000 towards rink upgrades.

The final winner will be announced during Hockey Night in Canada on April 1.

Voting takes place until 10 p.m. CST Monday night.

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