Morinville unites for final Kraft Hockeyville event

Above: Residents gathered at the cultural centre Saturday night to watch the game and learn if Morinville made it to the Top 2.

Update Mar. 29 4:45 p.m. – added second last paragraph to give cumulative vote tallies and reason Kraft does not disclose votes per Top 10 winner.

As many of you know, Morinville did not make the Top 2 last night. But it was a good run of community spirit. Here's a recap of the community effort and a thanks from Hockeyville organizer Wayne Gatza.

Posted by on Sunday, 29 March 2015

by Stephen Dafoe

A jubilant group of Hockeyville supporters turned from celebrative to contemplative about 10 seconds after learning if Morinville would be in the Top 2 communities for this year’s Kraft Hockeyville. After listening to much of Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada Broadcast, residents found out Morinville was the second community named as being out of the running in the west.

IMG_9389After learning North Saanich, B.C., and Chatham-Kent, Ont. were the Top western and eastern finalists, and winners of the $100,000 prize, participants took time to give Hockeyville 2015 organizer and promoter Wayne Gatza their appreciation for getting Morinville in the Top 10 with a standing ovation.

Local realtor and Morinville Kings President Wayne Gatza nominated the community for the annual event at the end of January. Gatza promoted Morinville’s rise to the Top 10 through a number of live events and a strong social media campaign. Through those efforts, Morinville, along with the seven other Top 10 finalists who did not advance to final voting, will receive $25,000.

IMG_9404“I want to thank everyone who voted for us and who showed support in this journey of ours,” Gatza said in an interview after the event. He went on to thank everyone from those who created the campaign bid’s song to those who donated pizza for the previous weekend’s vote-a-thon. “It was a heck of a journey. We brought our community together, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished. Twenty-five thousand is great to go towards our arena. I can’t say enough for everybody’s help.”

Based on the strength of that help and the large number of people who voted endlessly over the 48-hour period allotted Top 10 communities to rise, Gatza said he was shocked to learn Saturday night that Morinville was not in the Top 2.

“It was a great adventure,” Gatza said. “There’s nothing more I can say. I was kind of hoping for a better result, but at the end of the day I still am proud of what we accomplished here in our small town. We put Morinville on the map in Canada. It was awesome.”

Gatza is not alone in thinking the experience was a positive one and the journey worthwhile. After posting his thanks on the campaign’s Facebook page, reaction was instant both locally and as far away as Sylvan Lake, winners of last year’s contest.

“You all are superstars! Our group in Sylvan Lake cheered and voted our hearts out for you all,” wrote Cindy Lee Smith. “You are an amazing group with a community full of hockey heart! Well done these last couple weeks.”

Another Sylvan Lake resident, Dianne Womacks-Nelson, wrote: “Well, Morinville, congratulations for an amazing community. We watched you rally and come together for a wonderful cause. Hold your head high, stand proud. You are Kraft Hockeyville winners. You are community winners. So proud to have cheered you on, you’re awesome!

Facebook user LauriAnn wrote: “I am very proud of our town. My hubby and I have been moving all over Canada for 22 yrs and this is the best community we’ve ever lived in — so much so that we’re calling it home from now on, no more moving for us,” she wrote.

A total of 3,144,487 votes were cast over the two days of voting for the Top 10. Kraft are not rleasing the vote tallies for individual communities because while the “understand that knowing the number of votes for each community is exciting, the efforts of each community were even more exciting and are a true testament to what the Kraft Hockeyville program is all about.”

Voting for the Top 2 communities opened Saturday night after Hockey Night in Canada and continues until Monday night. The winner of this year’s event will be announced during Hockey Night in Canada Apr. 4. They will receive $100,000 and an NHL pre-season game.

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