Although Pense, Sask., lost the chance to host an NHL game, the town is still walking away with some prize money to upgrade its Pense Memorial Rink.
Pense was one of four finalists vying to become the winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2020.
Following two days of voting, Twillingate, N.L., took the top prize of $250,000 to upgrade its arena and the chance to host a pre-season NHL game in its community.
As runners-up, Pense, Tyne Valley, P.E.I., and Saint-Felicien, Que., will all receive $25,000 in arena upgrades.
On Sunday, Dragon’s Den celebrity, W. Brett Wilson announced on Twitter, he will match the $25,000 Pense received from Kraft. The Canadian investment banker, originally from Saskatchewan, encouraged others to donate.
“It made me cry. The emotions got the better of me. I’m just so overwhelmed with how much love for the province people have and I think that just speaks to how well we got the word out about what we needed to get done,” said Graeme Crosbie, Pense Memorial Rink board member.
According to Crosbie the town’s arena needs around significant upgrades.
“We learned three years ago that we would need $300,000 to upgrade our piping system and to re-level the ground underneath our ice,” Crosbie said.
The community has been able to raise about $106,000 over the past 18 months, but are still coming up short. However, with the added donation, the arena is halfway to their goal, Crosbie said, and the community will continue fundraising.
Asked why it was important to win Kraft Hockeyville 2020, Crosbie said it would mean not risking losing a season.
Further upgrades would allow Pense’s minor hockey teams to be able to play more games in their own community rather than travelling to Regina or Moose Jaw.
In addition to the $50,000 Pense will get in upgrades, the community’s minor hockey program will also receive $10,000 from the NHLPA’s Goals and Dreams fund.
A Saskatchewan community has yet to win the Kraft Hockeyville contest which started in 2006.
With files from Jonathan Guignard.