St. Adolphe, Man., misses out on Kraft Hockeyville title — but the journey isn’t over yet

A Manitoba community missed out on the Kraft Hockeyville title on Saturday night, but people in St. Adolphe aren’t letting it get them down.

Volunteer Lorrie Stade said the community was excited just to see how many people supported them in the contest, which had a grand prize of $250,000 for arena upgrades and the chance to host an NHL pre-season game.

“This has been an amazing experience that has brought our tiny community together,” Stade said.

“You go to bed every night smiling, knowing that there’s so many people out there that have so many nice things to say about your town and that are sharing our story.”

Stade said it was also a good way to create a sense of unity while people are isolated during the pandemic.

“This has been a reason for us to just get together and be excited — get together apart, of course — but just to be excited over something, a common entity,” she said.

People in St. Adolphe found out last month they had made the final four in the competition, which sees communities across Canada compete for money to help them make improvements to their arenas.

Voting closed on Saturday, with Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick taking home the Hockeyville title. 

But the other finalists didn’t go home empty-handed — they still get $25,000 each for arena upgrades and another $10,000 from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund to buy new hockey equipment for their minor hockey programs.

For St. Adolphe, which has a broken ice plant, a mould problem and small dressing rooms, the money is sorely needed.

But Stade said the ice plant alone will cost about $150,000 to fix, and even more if they buy a completely new one, so the community is brainstorming ways to raise the rest of the money.

The St. Adolphe Community Club and Arena was built in 1992. Volunteers were hoping to win the $250,000 prize to help them tackle a mould problem, update the dressing rooms, replace the ice plant and complete other necessary improvements. (Justin Fraser/SRC)

But if the last few weeks of rallying to get to this point have taught them anything, it’s that they won’t give up easily. Already, people have started donating their own money and offering to volunteer their time to help, Stade said.

“That’s where it starts,” she said.

“We’ve got a lot of new people to town who have really felt immediately that they’ve been a part of this community, just going, ‘Wow, like, it’s not just about hockey here.'”

Even though they didn’t win, just participating in the contest felt like “a little victory in its own right,” Stade said.

“It’s just been a really great experience hearing from everyone, seeing stories, just really living how Manitoba is just a big small town and we just really appreciate everybody’s support.”