During Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, the community of St. Adolphe was told it had made the final four for Kraft Hockeyville and is a step closer to the $250,000 grand prize.
Don Meilleur says when he found out, he was elated. "It's very exciting right now, even in the midst of the pandemic. We're pretty excited with where we are at."
Introducing Saint Adolphe, MB – one of the Top 4 communities hoping to be crowned #KraftHockeyville! Check out their story and get ready to vote. Voting is unlimited and will open on April 9 at 9:00 a.m. ET! @NHL @NHLPA @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/lTPNpJIL60— Kraft Hockeyville (@hockeyville) March 21, 2021
Meilleur explains the process of applying to Kraft Hockeyville.
"In February, our ice plant went down. It just happened to be Kraft Hockeyville and one of the ladies in town suggested we apply for the funding. She really spearheaded the application process. Word got out around the community members and we had to post videos and pictures and stories about the rink... it really brought people together to reminisce about the history of the rink. It really got our community spirit flowing again. We were super surprised just how many people had nice recollections of days past and even pictures. We were pretty excited when we were announced as one of the final four on Saturday night."
The community didn't know for a fact they made the top four until it was announced. "They did come out to the community do some video shoots" Meilleur explains. "But at the time, they didn't tell us if we were going to be in the top four. We assumed they would be doing this with some communities that were close so we had the sense we were right there, but not knowing exactly. It was pretty unnerving until we heard the announcement on Hockey Night in Canada."
Hearing St. Adolphe announced gave Meilleur instant joy followed by the realization the work really had to kick into high gear.
"Initially, you're excited, you're happy that whoever was looking at the voting deemed our community is one of the four. Then it flips, it becomes what can we do more now? How do we get the word out? We're in tough against three very worthy communities across the country and now we have to get our reach out even past our community. We're hoping we can get the entire province or even other provinces to help us get over the hurdle."
When it comes to the money, Meilleur says there's a number of issues that $250,000 could help solve.
"We have three big projects in mind. The ice plant that went down, we're working on the insurance companies on that to see if a portion will be covered. We have a big need for dressing rooms, we still have four dressing rooms that were built in the 1980s when the arena was covered. With the explosion of hockey in our area, both boys and girls, we just don't have enough dressing room space to completely satisfy what we need, especially for female hockey players, we don't really have room for them to change on their own so we have to do a lot of juggling, so that's a top priority. We also have the north wall that we discovered had mould last year, so we had to rip all the drywall off that wall in order to keep it safe for the players and patrons, so we really need to focus on getting that fixed. $250,000 would be a tremendous boost for the rink. I'm sure we could spend a lot more than that, but it would go a long way to helping improve the rink."
More than money, Meilleur says seeing the community come out to support and share past experiences of the rink, means a lot to everyone around.
"We haven't been at the rink in so long, it's been like a year since we've really been together at the arena... that's our community hub. That's where we all get together and not being there, we've lost touch with others around the community. But, through this process, we've reconnected with people almost on a daily basis. Getting to see the pictures and the old stories, a lot for the new people don't know the history and unfortunately, it can get lost over time and those are great stories. It's amazing we can connect the past to the present, teach the kids about how we became St. Adolphe and that's been really great. Regardless of if we win or lose, this whole process has been one that's brought us all a little closer together."
Maier admits that he wants to take home the big prize. "I'm not gonna lie, I really want to win," Meilleur says with a chuckle."Hopefully, we can keep generating interest and come out on top."
Voting for Kraft Hockeyville takes place on April 9th and lasts 24 hours.
Written by Dave Anthony