Pense, Sask., a finalist for Kraft Hockeyville 2020
No town from Saskatchewan has ever won the title
Pense, Sask., is the only western town in the top four for this year's Kraft Hockeyville. The other three towns are: Saint-Félicien, Que., Tyne Valley, P.E.I., and Twillingate, N.L.
Just for making it this far, the final four towns will get $10,000 to buy new hockey equipment for their minor hockey programs. The grand prize winner gets to host an NHL pre-season game and gets $250,000 to upgrade their community rink.
Kraft said in a news release they received a record number of submissions this year.
For Pense, they wanted their submission to the tell the story of how special their rink is to them. In 1989, the original rink in Pense burned to the ground. The town wanted a rink again so badly, they fundraised and built another within 15 months, according to Pense rink board member Graeme Crosbie.
"It's a wonderful story and to this day there's still a lot of passion for hockey in the community," he said.
Crosbie said there are around 90 kids in minor hockey in the town, with an array of adult leagues as well. Around 500 people live there.
The pipes in the Pense rink need replacing, which is one reason why Crosbie thinks they deserve to win. The ground under the rink also has to be re-levelled. The price tag for all that is around $300,000. They've raised a little over $100,000, so the Hockeyville win would put them right where they need to be.
Crossbie also wants to win because he said Saskatchewan deserves some of this love too. No town from Saskatchewan has ever won the title, though a handful have been finalists.
"I think largely due to the size of some of these towns, we just don't have the voting capacity that some of the other bigger centres have," he said. "It feels like it's time for someone from Saskatchewan to win."
Crosbie said much like other small towns in this province, there is a true sense of connectivity in Pense. The rink is in use seven days a week, between minor hockey, adult leagues, power skating and other ice activities, according to Crosbie.
Voting opens at 9:00 a.m. ET on August 14 and closes at 6:00 p.m. ET on August 15.
Pense is around 25 km west of Regina.