All eyes in Canada will be on a little town in Newfoundland this September.
After weeks of campaigning, Conception Bay South has won Kraft Hockeyville 2011 — a nationwide search for Canada's most passionate hockey town after securing 995,368 votes.
The community will host an NHL pre-season game on Sept. 26 between the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers. It will receive $100,000 in arena upgrade money from Kraft Canada, and will be showcased on CBC.
The Senators were also part of the 2010 Kraft Hockeyville game in Dundas, Ont., with the Buffalo Sabres supplying the opposition. Sens forward Colin Greening
, who is currently with the AHL's Binghamton Senators, is from Newfoundland and his parents live in Conception Bay.
"Once again the communities that participated in this year's Kraft Hockeyville competition showed how passionate Canadians are about grassroots hockey," said Dino Bianco, president of Kraft Canada. "Congratulations to Conception Bay South. You came out on top of a record 297 community entries to become Kraft Hockeyville 2011. We look forward to showing the rest of Canada your incredible enthusiasm when we visit this September."
The four runner-up communities — Wolfe Island, Ont.; Saint-Raymond, Que,; Bentley, Alta., and MacKenzie, B.C. — will receive $25,000 each in arena upgrade money from Kraft Canada.
"The local rink brings friends and families together. Through hockey, it fosters connections that last a lifetime," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It serves as a vital centre of community pride, and Kraft Hockeyville helps ensure that future generations of players will be able to enjoy those benefits. We at the National Hockey League are extremely proud of our connection with Kraft and our support of this outstanding program."
More than 3,000,000 votes were registered in the final voting period of the competition.
"For six years CBC has been a proud broadcast partner of Kraft Hockeyville and would like to congratulate Conception Bay South on being crowned this year's winner," said David Masse, senior director of CBC Sports."Bringing NHL hockey to communities across Canada speaks directly to our overall vision to increase exposure and access to the game at a grassroots level."
Kraft Hockeyville 2011 started out as a national search for Canada's most passionate hockey town. Conception Bay South is the first town in the province of Newfoundland to host the event.
"We congratulate Conception Bay South on being named Kraft Hockeyville 2011," said Don Fehr, NHLPA executive director. "Many current and former NHLPA members came to love hockey in places just like Conception Bay South. They enjoy visiting such communities as a part of Kraft Hockeyville to demonstrate their extraordinary playing ability, and to connect with fans and young players at the grassroots. We look forward to bringing NHL players and a pre-season game to this great Canadian community."
To view videos and receive insider updates, fans should join the Kraft Hockeyville Facebook fan page, check out coverage on NHL.com and follow @hockeyville on Twitter.