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Nova Scotia hoping for Hockeyville return

by Brian Compton
It's been four years since Nova Scotia won the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville competition, but the people of Lawrencetown are hoping to bring it back this September.

With more than 190,000 votes over a 12-day span, Lawrenceville was named the wild-card finalist in the competition last Saturday. This Saturday, the town, which is home to fewer than 700 people, is hoping to hear it will get to host an NHL preseason game in September and receive $100,000 from Kraft in upgrades for the Lawrencetown Exhibition Youth Arena. At the very least, the town will receive $25,000 from Kraft for reaching the top five.

Nova Scotia hosted the first-ever Kraft Hockeyville event in 2006, when the town of Salmon River was able to see the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators play a preseason game. Now, Lawrencetown is itching to win the award.

"It was pins and needles for most of (Saturday) evening waiting for the announcement," arena president Keith Veinott told the Chronicle Herald. "When our name came up, we never even saw the rest of the show. We had to watch it on the Internet afterwards."

According to the Chronicle Herald, the Lawrencetown Exhibition Youth Arena was built in 1970 as a pole barn. At 160 feet by 60, the rink itself is smaller than the NHL's surface.

While taking home some money for being a finalist is nice, the big prize would be even nicer -- and needed.

"People know how desperately we need some work done and how much we just need some funds," said Patricia Veinott, Rick's wife. "It's heartwarming ... and just overwhelming."

One of Nova Scotia's claims to fame is current New York Islanders forward Jon Sim, a native of Glasgow. The 32-year-old was selected in the third round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars and has 11 goals this season for the Isles.

"I've had the opportunity to play in two Kraft Hockeyville games with the Islanders, so I know first-hand how much a small community gets behind the event," said Sim, who participated in last year's event in Terrace, B.C. "If there's any town in the Maritimes that is worthy of being Kraft Hockeyville, it's definitely Lawrencetown."

Lawrencetown faces some stiff competition in fellow finalists Cranbrook, B.C; Dundas, Ont.; Stanstead, Que. and Bishop's Falls, Nfld. While it may be small in size, it would be foolish to count out the wild-card entrant.

"It's just fantastic," Rick Veinott said. "You can never underestimate a small community and the underdog, I guess."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter at: @BComptonNHL

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