The judging period of Kraft Hockeyville is underway, and Ste. Anne has claimed one of the top spots. 

With 2282 submissions, Ste. Anne finished second nationwide in the competition's first phase, Nominate and Rally.  

Sarah Normandeau, the recreational services manager of Ste. Anne says that the journey has been “overwhelming.” 

“We did one final push this weekend because we knew we were running out of time and had little hours left and did one huge rally push. We ended up with hundreds more submissions and it was awesome to see the community all come out. Tons of people shared it, tons of people came and showed up and helped out and went online and did what they need to do to push our numbers up,” 

The grand prize for Kraft Hockeyville 2023 is an NHL pre-season game and $250,000 towards arena upgrades. Normandeau says that the Ste. Anne arena’s ice plant needs “major upgrades.”  

“It's our time. We have such a story. We started our arena three weeks late this year because we couldn't get it going. Our ice plant is really shot right now. This arena owes us nothing. It's given us over 50 years, and that's just uncommon for an ice plant to last that long when they normally have a lifespan of 20 years. We have nothing to be upset about, but it's time to revive and put some life back into it,” she explains. “Regardless, win, lose or draw in Kraft Hockeyville, we have to find $306,000 to open up the doors next year. The town council doesn't want to see these doors closed. They don't want to see recreation in this facility lost in our community. It's very important for them to keep those doors open.” 

She adds that efforts to be crowned Kraft Hockeyville has united the community. 

“It is a little bit nerve-wracking, but it's also exciting and the community is all excited. Everywhere I go in this community, everyone's talking about Kraft Hockeyville. It's awesome to see,” she says.

In the judging period, nominations are reviewed, and points are tallied. Although they are in second place, she notes the number of submissions doesn’t determine the final result. Rally points come from actions and submissions. For example, submitting a nomination story is worth 10 points, while reacting to stories with emojis is worth one.  

On Saturday, March 11, Kraft Hockeyville will reveal the top four communities and the number of accumulated points. However, it doesn’t end there. 

“From there, there's a 36-hour voting phase, from March 31st to April 1st, and then that's just a rally of another level. It's rally parties and voting parties and just doing what you can to put us in that game somehow,” she explains.

As the nation waits for the results, Normandeau shares her gratitude for the community efforts and the support from beyond the area. 

“It's not even just the community, it's the community rallying their friends and their family that aren't even from here. I've seen submissions from Alberta, from B.C., cheering you on. It's awesome to see how many people are rallying.” 

With files from Dave Anthony.