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Hockey Night in Canada

With thousands of entries vying for the honour of becoming the new anthem for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, setting yours apart is no easy task.

But one composer is about to get help from some very talented friends.

Edmonton's John Estacio will act as guest conductor when the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performs his theme The Powerplay Fanfare as part of their Symphony Under the Sky Festival on Monday afternoon.

Estacio, 42, is a freelance composer and a former composer in residence with the ESO, which approached him about putting together an arrangement for their Labour Day show at the amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park.

"They found [the song] online after I posted it back in July," Estacio told CBCSports.ca. "They called me up and said, 'We really like your submission to the anthem challenge and we'd like to do an arrangement during our summer festival.'"

Winner unveiled on HNIC

Estacio's energetic 58-second instrumental was one of 11,455 entries submitted to Canada's Hockey Anthem Challenge as of Sunday afternoon, hours ahead of the 11:59 p.m. ET deadline.

Since the contest was launched on June 19, CBC Sports has received an eclectic array of pieces from across the country. They range from pop, punk, country and hip hop to classical, soul, funk and even heavy metal.

Most fall into the rock category, including a song called Hockey Rock, composed by legendary Canadian guitarist and songwriter Randy Bachman.

The "ratings," "recommendations" and "most viewed" portions of the contest website are just some of the factors judges will consider when selecting the semifinalists, who will be presented to the country and judged by a celebrity panel on a CBC network television special on Oct. 4.

Two finalists will face off at the beginning of the HNIC doubleheader on Thursday Oct. 9, with fans having the opportunity to vote for the winner.

The new theme will be unveiled two days later on the traditional Saturday broadcast of HNIC. The winning entry will receive $100,000 in cash and half of the ongoing performance royalties, with the other half going to Canadian minor league hockey.

'Different challenge' for pro composer

Estacio said he tried to give his tune a "patriotic" feel while modelling it after the fast pace of the game he "grew up with" as a youngster in Newmarket, Ont., just north of Toronto.

"One of my first memories is watching Hockey Night in Canada on television with my dad," Estacio said. "He's a big Leaf fan, so we watched the game every week.

"Like every other Canadian boy, I wanted to be the great Canadian hockey star. But as soon as I put my first skates on, I realized maybe I should stick with the piano."

Though he's made a career of composing music, Estacio said that creating a hockey anthem was a whole new game.

"I'm used to something a little longer, like a 10-minute or a 20-minute piece. I've written operas before, and those are two hours long, so you've got plenty of time to put out your ideas and develop them. But with something this short, it's like a haiku almost.

"It's an entirely different challenge."

Fans can continue to weigh in on submissions, posting reviews and ratings at the contest website CBCSports.ca/hockey/anthemchallenge.