Leo Glavine column: Hockeyville celebration outstanding

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Kingston's Hockeyville celebrations this past weekend were outstanding. Hopes and spirits were high; so much so that the wind, rain and cold were mere inconveniences for the morning parade. I would even venture to guess that many people were so focused on the competition that the winter didn't seem as long as it really was. Kraft Hockeyville competition gave everyone a sense of purpose. 

The amazing leadership, dedication and hard work of Wayne Fowler, the Credit Union Centre's committee, Kingston Village, 14 Wing Greenwood and all the volunteers produced an unforgettable pursuit of the title Kraft Hockeyville 2014. Organizers worked tirelessly to spread the word and share the vision. Everyone voted, voted more and even people beyond our borders voted for Kingston. Our children and grandchildren will remember with pride how their community worked so hard for them. 

We did not win the final round and because we worked so hard for several months, the final outcome hurt. The announcement on Hockey Night in Canada with about 1,500 people present in the Credit Union Centre showed the natural emotions of disappointment and some sadness. As a community, we had worked hard and those are the emotions of winners who came up a bit short in the final count. It is now time to congratulate Sylvan Lake and be pleased with the Eastern Canada title and the $100,000 prize that was so needed to complete the project this summer. 

The spirit that Kraft Hockeyville generated brought me back to 1972 and the beginnings of what would become the Western Kings Arena. As a newly-minted teacher at West Kings, I was invited by teacher/coach Ed Morgan to join the planning committee for a new rink in Kingston. As well as having one of the best high school hockey coaches in the province as a coaching mentor, the invite for community engagement was a significant life lesson. Beyond the planning, the community came out in full force with financial support, and when construction started, the sweat equity was there in abundance. 

That same spirit was reignited in September 2012, when within hours of the ice being ready for another season, a glycol leak developed. Jack Rafuse and his workers from Rafuse Mechanical cut out the ice and cement to fix the leak and get the season underway. Within a few days, two more leaks meant serious trouble and the season was in jeopardy.

The Credit Union Centre board made the decision to put in temporary piping above the cement pad, protected by a sand cover. Otherwise, there would have been no ice, no program and only limited time each week at the Greenwood Gardens for rentals.

Last summer, there were insufficient funds to replace the floor, boards and glass. Was it possible to win some additional funds above the federal, provincial and county grants to complete the half million dollar project? Kingston was inspired by Lawrencetown’s bid for Kraft Hockeyville a few years ago. We were deeply affected and inspired at the same time by the tragic passing of David Morse, who worked relentlessly for the arena on the board and through his professional life at the Valley Credit Union. Wayne Fowler picked up the cause and championed it from early fall to April 5 with his “get it done” attitude.

Kraft Hockeyville is a great advertising vehicle for Kraft Canada, the NHL and CBC, but it is so much more. It was a cause that united so many who had any connection to Kingston/Greenwood and some just supported for the common good. More and more I am referencing our communities together, and under the leadership of Col. Huddleston, 14 Wing Greenwood made every effort to push us over the top. The video for Hockey Night in Canada included a SAR Tech jump in tribute to David Morse and his impact on the arena and our community.

The Kingston/Greenwood community was quick to congratulate the winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2014: Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Perhaps, someday, we could host a team from there building the boundaries of both communities through the common goal we shared. We both won the best honour – a sense of pride in contributing to our community.

Kingston will build on its newfound strengths and relationships as it continues its quest toward the ultimate prize: a refurbished Credit Union Centre that will serve the next generation. We may not be Kraft Hockeyville 2014, but adopting 14 Wing Greenwood’s motto – “We operated as one – we are Kingston, Nova Scotia, a winning community.”

Organizations: Credit Union Centre, Valley Credit Union, Kraft Canada NHL CBC

Geographic location: Kingston, Eastern Canada, Sylvan Lake Greenwood Alberta Nova Scotia

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