The hockey arena in Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick will be getting a much-needed facelift, after the community was voted Kraft Hockeyville 2021.
The title, which comes with a preseason NHL game and a $250,000 prize for arena upgrades, was announced Saturday night.
The community was devastated in September 2020 when fire ripped through Chief Young Eagle Recreation Centre and caused extensive damage, leaving it inoperable.
The First Nations is also in mourning, after the loss of two local fishermen — Craig “Jumbo” Sock and Seth Monahan — in a crab fishing boat accident last weekend.
Sock, who is presumed deceased after the capsizing, was especially fond of hockey.“Hockey is… [Sock’s] biggest passion,” Jaime Carpenter, who was part of the community’s bid committee, told Global News. “He was a player, his son was a player, his grandchildren are going to be players.” That determination to overcome tragedy and grief, is what Kraft Hockeyville highlighted in their winning announcement. “Hockey is the heart and soul of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. The community’s arena has always been a catalyst for connection since it opened its doors in 1979,” they wrote in a news release. “Some members of the community feel that the racism or daily challenges faced by First Nations fuels their commitment to the game of hockey and their constant drive to play harder and better.” The program, now in its 15th year, receives thousands of nominations from communities across Canada each year. The winning community is voted on by the public. In addition to hosting a preseason NHL game and the $25,000 for upgrades, the winner also received $10,000 worth of youth hockey equipment.