Rally for the Valley: P.E.I. community gathers for group photo to launch Hockeyville bid
'The morning the rink burned we didn't really lose a building, it was like you lost your house'
Tyne Valley, P.E.I., gathered for a group photo on Saturday to kick off its Kraft Hockeyville bid.
With the photo, the community hopes to catch the attention of the contest's committee and win $250,000.
Tyne Valley recently lost its arena to a fire.
Every year, the Hockeyville competition gives one Canadian town money to upgrade its arena and host an NHL pre-season game.
Should Tyne Valley win, the prize money would go toward the cost of a new rink. The former rink was deemed a total loss.
Before the arena burned down, there were no plans for a bid for the contest because the province had already approved some upgrades.
A look at the crowd that turned up in Tyne Valley this morning to kick off the Kraft Hockeyville bid. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEI?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PEI</a> <a href="https://t.co/JMEcRXtaLB">pic.twitter.com/JMEcRXtaLB</a>—@Sarah_MacMillan
Buses and cars filled with Islanders from tip to tip rolled up to the parking lot of the old rink. The space was quickly overwhelmed by several hundred people.
Seeing the Island's hockey community come together has been incredible, said Rachel Noye, a member of the Tyne Valley Hockeyville Committee.
"When we heard that it had been destroyed by fire, everyone was in a sense of mourning because in small towns the rink is so much more than just a building," said Noye. "It's really our place for gathering.
Within, I would say, less than 24 hours we had a committee that had started the process of forming.— Rachel Noye, Tyne Valley Hockeyville committee member
"I had been born and raised here and the rink has been a huge part of my own story. Between coming and watching my father when he would play, my brothers, my husband and our own children."
Noye said she's also been involved in the figure skating community at the centre as well. She said it didn't take long for a committee to form and spring into action on the rink's behalf.
"Within, I would say, less than 24 hours we had a committee that had started the process of forming and trying to see if this would even be a possible avenue for us to explore."
She said Islanders should vote on the Hockeyville website and share their own stories about the rink on social media.
It's really become more than a story about a small village come together in a time of grief ... it's become an effort Island-wide.— Rachel Noye, Tyne Valley Hockeyville committee member
Keeley Beck, 10, said she played hockey at the Tyne Valley rink for the past four years.
She said she still remembers the first time she hit the ice at the local rink.
"The rink is pretty important to everybody," she said.
"I just felt like I wouldn't be happy again because that rink was a really nice rink for all us."
Nominations for the competition close on Feb. 9. The final four communities will be announced March 14 with the winner announced two weeks later.
"It's really become more than a story about a small village [coming] together in a time of grief ... it's become an effort Island-wide."
I hope they see that a full province is supporting one bid.— Adam MacLennan, rink manager
Even if the rink wins the contest, $250,000 won't be enough to build a new arena. But it will certainly help, said Adam MacLennan, the rink's manager.
"If we can make it to the final four and win it, it's great. P.E.I.'s a small province but we got an army of support."
He said the rink's fundraising committee has been in talks with the federal and provincial governments on possible funds to help with the rebuild.
"It's going to be a long process," he said.
Looking around him at the crowd of people gathered, MacLennan said he was humbled to see Islanders young and old, from "East Point right to North Cape."
"The morning the rink burned we didn't really lose a building, it was like you lost your house.
"It was tough that day but it's just really exciting now."
As for the Hockeyville judges, MacLennan said: "I hope they see that a full province is supporting one bid."
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With files from Sarah MacMillan