That united message has been running wild throughout Terrace, BC, since the city of 12 thousand entered the Kraft Hockeyville contest more than three months ago.
In that time the little town that could has successfully shown its community spirit and commitment to hockey and Terrace is now on the verge of being crowned Kraft Hockeyville 2009.
“Everyone here is really excited and pumped,” said Carol Fielding, communications chair for the bid from Terrace, a coastal community 1,367 km north of Vancouver and home of the CIHL’s Terrace River Kings.
“Hockey is the biggest heartbeat in the community. We have other sports groups around, but hockey is played all year long here.”
Terrace is one of five communities in the running for the elusive Hockeyville title and is the westernmost entry. Other finalists including Harbour Grace, NL, Thetford Mines, QC, Woolwich, ON and Humboldt, SK.
Having already won $25,000 in arena upgrades and a CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, which Cassie Campbell and Kirk McLean hosted, Terrace is now aiming for the grand prize – the chance to host an NHL pre-season game broadcast live by CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, plus $100,000 in further arena upgrades.
“Winning this would mean so many things to the community,” said Fielding.
“The prizing of course is wonderful, but more importantly for our community, and the thing people are talking about the most right now, is hosting a pre-season hockey game and having the opportunity to maybe have the Canucks come to town.
“That’s the big talk now and I think that for many, many, many people in this community, that is the reason they’re voting, they want this hockey game to be held in Terrace.”
The bragging rights and title of being named Kraft Hockeyville 2009 would also do wonders in helping expose Terrace as a tourism destination, explained Fielding, but the meaning of this competition runs deeper than that.
In 2001 the community best known as the home of the Kermode Bear, the rare white spirit bear, received a huge blow when the Skeena Cellulose Inc. pulp mill, the largest employer in town, was shutdown.
The mill was bought by a group of local owners and reopened in 2005, only to have its door closed again in 2006.
“Terrace has had some economic struggles over the past 10 years, two mills down, employment not really nice, people leaving the town to go work in other parts of the province and even Alberta, so I think this would renew and refresh the energy coming back to Terrace.”
Whether or not Terrace can capture the coveted Hockeyville title, Fielding is proud of the way everyone has rallied around one another to make the final five.
“This has shown the community that we’re still alive, that were not all sitting in the doldrums and feeling sorry for ourselves.
“The essence of the community is in fact alive and eager and wanting to show each other in the community that we support each other. We’re about helping you and helping our neighbors and our friends and our families and supporting everything about Terrace.”
That support from the residents of Terrace, alongside a lot of hard work and dedication, helped the city land a spot in the competition back in December 2008.
The first phase of being accepted into the CBC run contest was telling a story of why the community deserved consideration.
Proof of how much the people of Terrace love hockey came when 716 stories poured in, everyone from young Brianne Monsen, a rookie just learning to skate, to Mae Paul, a grandparent who still enjoys the game, and everyone in between shared their personal tales of what hockey means to them.
The next highest number of stories among the five finalists came from Thetford Mines, where only 274 people put their thoughts on paper.
Terrace wants to win this competition like nothing else, the stories, the decorations draped all over town and the oneness of the community speak to that, but ever since being named a top 10 finalist in early January, the power has been out of the city’s hands.
Voting advanced Terrace and the four others to the final five and voting will determine who walks away with the title.
Of the 2.6 million votes cast across Canada in narrowing down the field to five, Terrace received 382,000 of them. That’s an impressive number to say the least, yet Fielding knows it’s going to take more than that to take top spot.
“I think we’re looking at 3 million votes to win, so whatever anybody did last time, they have to do at least 10 times more this time in order to make that mark.”
That’s where you come in.
The voting window opens on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. (PST) and runs through Wednesday March 4 at 9 p.m. (PST) and there are three ways you can vote: (1) call 1-866-533-8066; (2) log onto www.cbcsports.ca/hockeyville
; or (3) text: Vote Terrace to 222111.
“Voting is unlimited so we’re asking people to vote early, vote often, vote as much as they can,” said Fielding, adding that the three previous Hockeyville titles have all gone to eastern provinces (Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec) and it’s time to bring it West.
“We want to beat the beast in the East and show them that the West is the best.”
The fate of Terrace as Kraft Hockeyville 2009 is in your hands, rock the vote!