Will British Columbia hang on to the Kraft Hockeyville crown for another year?
The people of Cranbrook sure hope so.
With nearly 360,000 votes, the home of Scott and Rob Niedermayer was named one of the five finalists to become Kraft Hockeyville 2010. Cranbrook, which is home to fewer than 19,000 people, is hoping to follow Terrace, B.C., which hosted the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders in 2009.
"My brother and I grew up in Cranbrook and still come back every summer and there's no doubt in my mind it's the best hockey community in the West," said Scott Niedermayer, who has won four Stanley Cups in his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. "I know that our many friends back home will make Kraft Hockeyville the event of the century if Canadians go out and vote for Cranbrook."
The town of Cranbrook -- the home of the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League -- is hoping to receive $100,000 in arena upgrades to the Cranbrook RecPlex, in addition to hosting an NHL preseason game.
A voting station was set up at the local mall Monday morning, where citizens have a chance to get involved in the bidding. It will be there from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. through Wednesday, with phones and computers available.
"This has been and continues to be a very positive event for our community," Mayor Scott Manjak told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. "I want to thank all the volunteers and the residents who took the time to vote to get Cranbrook to this point."
Much like the previous winners, the five finalists are gushing at what the Kraft Hockeyville crown can do to boost the town's economy. And after what the 2010 Olympic Games did for British Columbia, a Kraft Hockeyville crown for Cranbrook would be another shot in the arm.
"What a thrill," Kootenay Rockies Tourism President Chris Dadson told the Daily Townsman. "We are so excited that Cranbrook has made the Top 5. There's just no greater Hockeyville anywhere.
"We're equally as excited because this exposure will go a long way in getting the word out that there's no better place to visit than the Kootenay Rockies."
"Regardless of who claims the title of Hockeyville," he said, "what this community has done to help promote the city of Cranbrook on the national stage can truly only benefit us in the long run."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter at: @BComptonNHL