Hundreds of people from Ituna, Sask., waited in anticipation to find out if their town would be named the next Kraft Hockeyville community on Saturday night.
The town lost to O’Leary, P.E.I.
“It’s a little bit of a kick in the stomach, but it’s all good,” Ituna Mayor Doug Scully said.
“Even though we didn’t win, the whole community has just been awesome,” said Sean Trefiak, who nominated Ituna for the Kraft Hockeyville title. “There’s well over a thousand people here tonight, and that’s more than our town population … I’m at a loss for words for how amazing the whole situation has been. It’s been a whirlwind.”
Ituna won’t get the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game, but it is still awarded $100,000 for arena upgrades.
“It’s disappointing, but $100,000 is still more than we had a month ago, so it’ll help our community,” Tamara Trefiak, who also nominated Ituna for Kraft Hockeyville, said.
The community said it will continue fundraising to replace its 55-year-old rink.
“This is just our big drive now. We’re in it to build a new arena and I think that this is a reality that is going to be coming very quickly for us,” Karla Sauve, a Hockeyville committee member, said.
Sauve said the competition, which was decided by public online voting, brought the community closer together.
“This has been so much more than a new arena. This has been about community pride and anything is possible. Like really, we’re just this little town and look at how far we came. To see the amount of people here today is winning in itself,” she said.
Ituna beat out nearly 3,000 communities across Canada to finish in the top two. Those who organized the campaign said the community might consider entering again next year.