Town hoping for better luck in Kraft Hockeyville contest

O’Leary, P.E.I., was named as a top-10 finalist for the Kraft Hockeyville contest and could win $100,000 for upgrades at the rink and host an NHL pre-season game.

O'Leary was named a finalist in 2006, but fell short of the top prize

The rink in O'Leary, P.E.I., is in need of some major repairs. (Google Maps)

Della Sweet is hoping for better luck this time around after O'Leary, P.E.I. was named as a top-10 finalist for the Kraft Hockeyville contest.

The announcement was made Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada

"It was sheer joy. I was just so excited for everyone in the community. It just sparked something in everybody that has brought out pride in the community," said Sweet.

In 2006, Sweet was part of a group that also put in a bid for the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville contest. O'Leary didn't win, but it did finish in the top 10.

This year, the group got together with most of its previous members to give it another try.

Sweet said they put together a video featuring a song about O'Leary and the Community Sports Centre written and performed by a local musician. The submission was sent about a day before the deadline.

Guaranteed $25,000

Even if O'Leary doesn't finish first or second, as a top-10 finalist, the community is guaranteed at least $25,000.

But Sweet and the community are hoping for the top prize, which includes $100,000 and hosting a pre-season NHL game.

"That would be pretty exciting," she said.

Even second place gets $100,000, while the other eight finalists get $25,000 each.

Arena important for families, kids

Sweet said work hasn't been done on the town's rink in 25 years and it needs a lot of repairs. She said the canteen and washrooms need major renovations. Also, the entrance to the arena needs to become more accessible for people with mobility issues. Other work would include opening up the lobby to make the area more family oriented.

Sweet managed the rink from 1995 to 2007, and knows all too well its importance to the community and its families, including her own kids who grew up playing hockey with their father watching in the stands.

"I think it really was part of them developing into the people they are today — the connections they made at the rink," said Sweet. "A lot of kids in the community, the rink really plays a part in shaping their character and shaping who they are and making them good people to the community."

Voting for the contest begins on March 12 at 10 a.m. AT at the Kraft Hockeyville website and finishes on March 14 at 12:59 a.m. AT. Winners will be announced on Hockey Night in Canada on April 1.

With files from Nicole Williams