Hockeyville win a puck's toss away for 2 Maritime arenas
Bedeque, P.E.I. and Kingston, N.S. rinks seek voting momentum to take them to next stage of competition
Two Maritime community arenas — Bedeque and Area Recreation Centre in P.E.I. and Credit Union Centre in Kingston, N.S. — are vying to make it to the final voting stage of the annual Hockeyville competition.
Along with finalists from the western division, Salmon Arm, B.C. and Sylvan Lake A.B., Bedeque and Kingston are guaranteed $50,000 in arena upgrades for making it this far.
People can vote as many times as they want until March 18 at 1 a.m.
Hockey Night in Canada will announce the two finalists on Saturday.
"I think everyone is just excited and nervous and dedicated and committed and we're giving it all that we have," said Jessica MacDonald, who is one of many Bedeque residents glued to their computers trying to max out the votes.
A group of volunteers saved the rink from closing this year and they want to make sure it stays open.
"A lot of people couldn't afford to have to have their children anywhere else or to travel further to play," said Duane MacDonald.
"It's a gathering place to meet with your neighbours and friends, and it's just really the heart of the community. We don't want to see that die."
Bedeque residents say they are getting lots of support outside the community as well.
"We hear they're voting all across P.E.I. and Canada and it's really got us excited," said MacDonald.
A Summerside store has set up a computer voting station.
"There's a lot of traffic through, so if they just take notice of the computer and take a couple of minutes to vote, it would be much appreciated by Bedeque and all of this area," said Blair Waugh of Waugh's Quick Mart.
Broken freezing plant
Meanwhile, few people know the ice in Kingston's Credit Union Centre better than 15-year-old Cole Rafuse. He plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League where he is seen as a professional prospect.
But he learned it all in the Kingston rink.
"I grew up here. My Grandfather used to be the manager here and my Dad's on the board for probably around three years and I just grew up playing minor hockey with practices and home games out of here," said Rafuse.
Although the rink launched Rafuse's NHL dream, it is anything but big league. The freezing plant is broken, replaced with a temporary unit that makes ice on a bed of sand. The sagging boards have to be braced with two by fours.
"The Kingston arena has been a part of our life for the whole time that we've been here. We've watched our kids grow up here and go to the arena and play games. It keeps them out of trouble and keeps them busy all the time," said coffee shop owner Yvette Kane.
Area schools are allowing students to take a moment to cast some ballots.
High school senior Connor Morse says there is more on the line than the money.
"There's a lot of excitement to get Hockeyville here in Kingston. Lots of people want to see the Stanley Cup and want the NHL game here, so lots of people are talking throughout the school and trying to vote as much as they can."