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Wilkie pushing for Kraft Hockeyville win as nominations open

A Wilkie resident is hoping for greater community support as they once again rally behind the town’s nomination for Kraft Hockeyville 2021.

Nominations for the competition opened January 1st and Helen Urlacher was ready to enter her community right away.

“It brings a lot of people together, the Kraft Hockeyville competition, and it’s brought a lot of people together here in Wilkie. We’re just hoping to give it another shot. You never know unless you try right?”

Urlacher has plans to help boost support for the competition which will be shared on the Facebook nomination page. She says some ideas include a scavenger hunt around town which residents can use as pictures in their nominations for the competition. Urlacher says she and her Hockeyville partner Kathy Heilman are entirely focused on the competition and getting more people to back them up.

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“I know there’s been questions around town of ‘Why again?’ We’re not happy not winning and this year we want to win.”

The town of about 1,300 people has already made it the top 10 in 2017 and then the finals in 2019.

“When we got the call from Sportsnet that was the height of that competition. They came out and did the video with us. They announced that we didn’t win and Renous, New Brunswick won and we were very happy for them. It was well deserved, but we walked away winners anyway with the generosity of Brett Wilson and Scott Nelson.”

The two men donated $25,000 each to help in the renovations to the Saskcan Community Centre. Urlacher says there are still some areas of the facility that need some help.

“Our ice plant is not functioning properly to where we want it to be and we’ve had issues with that all throughout 2020. We need a properly running facility for our future hockey players, figure skaters and for everyone.”

The 2020 grand prize winner will receive $250,000 for arena upgrades and will play host to an NHL preseason game. The winner and three-runner ups will also receive $10,000 for new hockey equipment for their minor hockey programs.

Saskatchewan communities have come close to taking the title with Ituna named runner-up in 2017 and Pense placing in the Top 4 last year, but have never brought it home. Urlacher is hoping Wilkie will be the one.

“We’ve qualified. We’re small towns, but we have big voices and even bigger hearts. Kraft Hockeyville is definitely hearing Saskatchewan, but Saskatchewan needs to grab that title and get it sometime soon hopefully.”

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Nominations close on February 14th and a top 4 will be announced on March 20th.

“To type up a nomination, it takes maybe 15 minutes out of anyone’s time. That 15 minutes might last Wilkie, Sask and our community centre a whole lifetime in the end.”

Canadians will then vote on the final four from 9 a.m. on April 9th to 5 p.m. the next day. A winner will be announced on Saturday, April 10th.

Kraft Hockeyville has awarded $3.8 million to 85 communities across the country since it began in 2006.

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