Three NAHL buildings named finalists for Kraft Hockeyville
April 13, 2015
The Cambria County War Memorial Arena (top), the Big Dipper Ice Arena (middle) and Pullar Stadium (bottom) are three of the 10 finalists in the Kraft Hockeyville USA.
Hundreds of communities across the country have shown their hockey spirit and passion by nominating their local rinks for the esteemed title of "Kraft Hockeyville USA," and the chance to host an NHL Pre-Season Game in their local community.
Launched in the United States for the first time on January 1, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), National Hockey League (NHL), NBC Sports Group and USA Hockey, Kraft's Canadian-born program captured the nation, reaching communities in all 50 states, with 1,324 rinks nominated and 18,388 unique story nominations. The top 10 communities, three of which are home to NAHL teams, will share $425,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft.
The contest’s grand-prize winner receives $150,000 for rink upgrades and a National Hockey League exhibition game that will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). The game, according to the rules on the Hockeyville website (www.krafthockeyville.com
), will take place on a date chosen by Kraft Foods between July 1 and Sept. 30.
Of the 10 community finalists, five from the West and five from the East, three of those are buildings and communities that house teams in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The top two vote-getters from each category will advance to the second round next week. The final round of voting, set for April 27-29, will pit the top second round vote-getters from each category against each other for the Kraft Hockeyville title.
All finalists in the contest are guaranteed a minimum of $20,000 in committee-approved rink upgrades, with the prize escalating to $40,000 for the East and West runners-up and $75,000 for the national runner-up.
Moving on to the first round of voting include:
Big Dipper Ice Arena (Fairbanks, AK/Fairbanks Ice Dogs)
Cambria County War Memorial Arena (Johnstown, PA/Johnstown Tomahawks)
Pullar Stadium (Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Soo Eagles)
Big Dipper Ice Arena
The Big Dipper Ice Arena is known as the home of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the reigning Robertson Cup champion in the North American Hockey League. “If we move on, it gets better,’’ Randy Zarnke, president of the Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame and coordinator of Hockey Week in Fairbanks, said by telephone. “The recognition is nice, but the prizes are nothing to sneeze at,’’ Zarnke added lightheartedly. It’s awesome, it’s another feather in our cap,’’ Zarnke said of the Dipper’s status as a Kraft Hockeyville finalist. The 47-year-old Big Dipper, which was a former aircraft hangar, seats 1,857 and has a total capacity of 2,242. According to Kraft Hockeyville contest rules, an alternate venue in the winning rink’s city can be used for the NHL exhibition game if the grand-prize winning rink’s capacity is not large enough.
Cambria County War Memorial Arena
Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena, home to the NAHL’s Johnstown Tomahawks, was named one of the contest’s ten finalists. Johnstown is known to hockey fans worldwide as the home of “Slap Shot,” the iconic 1977 Paul Newman comedy about the Charlestown Chiefs hockey team. The fictional Chiefs were based largely on Johnstown’s professional team at the time, the Johnstown Jets. The Cambria County War Memorial opened in 1950 and was home to the Jets for 27 years and the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs for 22 years. The Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League are now the arena’s primary tenant, averaging approximately 2,200 fans per game. Johnstown led the nation with 2,471 nominations received during the first phase of the competition, which began Jan. 1 and ended March 18.
Pullar Stadium, home to the Soo Eagles of the NAHL, made the list of 10 finalists for the Kraft Hockeyville USA contest. The Hockeyville USA search reached communities in all 50 states, with 1,324 rinks nominated and 18,388 unique story nominations submitted. “This is huge, exciting news for our community,” said Executive Director Linda Hoath of the Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitor's Bureau. “Sault Ste. Marie was mentioned on national TV today when we learned we are among the 10 finalists. We have a great opportunity here. Now we need to get everyone to vote.” Maleport said he came up with the idea to enter the contest while he was watching hockey on New Year’s Day, when he saw a promotion for Kraft’s Hockeyville campaign. “I started playing hockey at the Pullar when I was six, and I’m still playing there at age 60,” Maleport said. “Hockey history runs deep here. We are the original Hockeytown USA, and I think we could be Hockeyville USA.”
Three rounds of public voting begin on April 14 and determine the first Kraft Hockeyville USA:
• Round 1: 12 a.m. ET on April 14, through 11:59 p.m. ET on April 16
- Top four communities announced April 18 and chosen to move on to the next round; remaining six each receive $20,000 toward arena upgrades
• Round 2: 12 a.m. ET on April 21 through 11:59 p.m. ET on April 22
- Top two communities announced April 25; remaining two each receive $40,000 toward arena upgrades
• Round 3: 12 a.m. ET on April 27 through 11:59 p.m. ET on April 29
- One community becomes the first-ever "Kraft Hockeyville USA"; runner-up receives $75,000 toward arena upgrades
The grand prize winner will be announced on NBC on May 2 and receive the grand prize opportunity to host an NHL Pre-Season game televised on NBCSN and $150,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft.