After weeks of campaigning, culminating with a national vote to select the winner, the town of Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario won the Kraft Hockeyville competition on Saturday night.
Stirling-Rawdon will host a preseason game this fall between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, receive $100,000 in arena upgrade money from Kraft Canada, and enjoy a visit from CBC's Hockey Night In Canada. The Ontario town will also receive $10,000 in food bank donations from Kraft Canada.
"Great things happen when a community focuses its passion on a cause as exciting as Kraft Hockeyville," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "The National Hockey League is extremely pleased to join Kraft in supporting this outstanding program, which ensures the longevity of a neighborhood rink and creates a legacy of hockey opportunities."
The four runner-up communities will have their efforts rewarded with $25,000 each from Kraft Canada to go towards their local arena.
"We are thrilled to be participating in Kraft Hockeyville 2012 and look forward to an exciting visit with the members of Leafs Nation in Stirling-Rawdon next season," said Toronto Maple Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke.
"The Kraft Hockeyville program is a great celebration of the game of hockey and the Columbus Blue Jackets are proud to be taking part in this game," said club Executive Vice President and General Manager Scott Howson. "We look forward to visiting Stirling-Rawdon next October and playing the Toronto Maple Leafs."
More than 11 million votes were registered for the Top 5 communities, between March 17 and March 20, 2012. A breakdown of the final tally follows:
Stirling District Recreation Centre
West Kelowna, British Columbia
Royal LePage Place
Complexe Sportif De Amos
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Duck Lake, Saskatchewan
Beardy's Memorial Arena
"Just like in hockey, this competition requires passion and teamwork to win," said Dino Bianco, President, Kraft Canada. "I'd like to congratulate the community of Stirling-Rawdon for their tireless effort, passion and creativity. We look forward to showcasing your winning spirit when we visit this fall."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also congratulated the Ontario town on winning what has become one of the biggest events in his country.
"I would like to congratulate the residents of Stirling-Rawdon on winning the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville contest," Harper said. "In garnering the highest numbers of votes, they have demonstrated both tremendous community spirit and their true commitment to the great sport of hockey.
"It is communities like this one across the country that provide the support and spirit necessary to foster great hockey players. I am certain that the upgrades to the arena here in Stirling-Rawdon, the NHL pre-season game and the broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada will further ignite this community's passion for the game and inspire more young people to dream of and pursue a career in the NHL.
"I would also like to congratulate the runners-up in this contest and all of the organizers from Kraft, the NHL and the CBC who were involved in this year's contest."