Let’s bring the Hockeyville title back to B.C.

IT'S HOCKEYVILLE time again and Terrace residents can help bring the title back to B.C.

IT’S HOCKEYVILLE time again and Terrace residents can help bring the title back to B.C.

West Kelowna has qualified to be one of the top 5 finalists, which is good news for the city’s Hockeyville committee co-chair who was on the committee for our successful 2009 Hockeyville run.

Andrew Deans says the community spirit there is as high as it was here, maybe even higher.

West Kelowna opened a voting centre for its first and second round of voting, he recalled.

“It’s crazy in here right now,” he said earlier this afternoon from the voting centre there.

“There’s about 60 people here right now and still room for more people. It’s absolutely gone wild .”

To get into the top 5 and be the representative for the Pacific region, West Kelowna beat out Campbell River and Osoyoos by a landslide of votes.

West Kelowna had more than 1,022,000 votes compared to Campbell River’s 420,000 and Osoyoos’s 200,000, said Deans.

“In comparison, Terrace had just shy of 400,000 to win it back then,” he said.

So the city is sitting exactly where Terrace was, finishing second in votes in the top 5, he said.

Events have been going on since last November, including a Hockeyville feast for two days in December, a New Year’s pond hockey game, a mini-sticks tournament, Hockeyville celebration, road hockey, polar bear swim, a wacky winter Olympics and several events to raise money for the food bank, said Deans.

“Any town deserves to experience Hockeyville,” he said.

“The passion is still deep inside me from what I felt and did in Terrace.”

And he’s passed that on.

“I have kids come up and say ‘I’m going home tonight and ask my dad if I can do an overnighter with you guys,’” said Deans.

“That’s how enthusiastic the kids are. It’s not every day the Canucks come knock on your door and say ‘hang out with me.’ It’s a pretty neat thing to put your hero right in your backyard.”

Deans intends to “live” at the voting centre until tomorrow night when voting ends.

Unlike the Terrace Hockeyville run, votes cannot be made by texting so that leaves voting by phone, which is quite slow, or by computer, said Deans.

Voting online means you can cast about six votes per minute, he said.

West Kelowna has been a separate city with its own mayor and council for the last four years – it used to be Westbank, said Deans.

“This is the first thing for West Kelowna, a young community, where everyone comes together around one common goal,” he said about Hockeyville’s effect.

“We’re up against four established communities and here we are four years old and hey, we can hang with the big dogs and do a really good job.”

He encourages Terrace residents to vote for West Kelowna to help bring the Hockeyville title back to B.C.

“I watched the last couple of years [of Hockeyville]; 2010 and 2011 were all right, but Terrace was over the top with enthusiasm.”

In addition to West Kelowna, the other finalists are: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Amos, Quebec; Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario and Duck Lake, Saskatchewan.

The winning community will host a 2012-13 NHL pre-season game and receive $100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft Canada.

The four runner-up communities will each receive $25,000 for improvements to their local rinks.

To vote for West Kelowna, go to the krafthockeyville.ca site, pick the Pacific region and West Kelowna.

You can vote until 8:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 20.

On March 30 and 31, CBC will visit, and broadcast live from, the five communities vying for Hockeyville 2012 and announce the winner.