Ituna, Sask. has been announced as a top 2 finalist for the 2017 edition of Kraft Hockeyville.
Ituna is guaranteed $100,000 for arena upgrades and the chance to host an NHL pre-season hockey game.
The other finalist is O'Leary, P.E.I., and they will compete with Ituna for the chance to host the game and hold the title of Hockeyville. Voting closes Monday night and votes can be cast here.
- O'Leary makes top 2 in Hockeyville contest
- Wilkie and Ituna land in top 10 for Kraft Hockeyville 2017
New structure needed in Ituna
Ituna's arena is community built and maintained but it's on its last legs, according to Ituna resident Adrienne Ivey.
"This contest couldn't have come at a better time for Ituna," she said, saying there are serious roof failures which need to be addressed.
The community has been fundraising "like crazy" for a new rink, she said but construction costs are piling up. Artificial ice would be a welcome addition to the facility as the natural ice usually depends on the temperatures, she said. Since the NHL preseason games begin in late September, if the town wins, the actual game will be played in a larger centre.
"It's a place where volunteering is expected of every single person that's in the community, whether your kid is in hockey or not," she said.
"When it was announced that Ituna was top two, I was so overwhelmed. The people that have been supporting us in this have been absolutely amazing and so far beyond what we ever expected," Ivey said.
Saturday night special
The community gathered at the arena and celebrated for hours when the announcement was made.
Sean Trefiak, who nominated Ituna for Hockeyville, said the feeling is awesome.
"It's still kind of just unreal that we made it into the top two," he said.
Trefiak said fundraising has been going on for years and those efforts will continue. Residents watched Hockey Night in Canada on a big screen and celebrated late into the night.
"It's definitely going to go a long way," Trefiak said of the incoming funds. "It's going to be just great for our community and will keep our hockey and arena just thriving for years to come."
As for the hockey teams they would like to see? Ivey and Trefiak both mentioned the Edmonton Oilers as a popular choice within the town.
Eight other finalists will receive at $25,000 for their arenas, including the community of Wilkie.