Lumsden’s run for Kraft Hockeyville didn’t end on a winning note, but the outpouring of support from Saskatchewan and all around the world made the organizer of the campaign, Jamie Lees, proud nonetheless.
“I can’t even explain the feeling of the support that poured in and just to unite a province in the year of a pandemic was really special,” said Lees.
“I don’t know if there was anyone in Saskatchewan who didn’t hear about it or know about it and not just Saskatchewan but all over the world. We had Newfoundland backing us, we had lots of Albertans backing us, people in B.C backing us and even all the way to Australia. It just grew so fast.”
Saskatchewan has never been able to win despite having local rinks in the finals eight out of the 15 years the contest has been running.
The Ziglo family (Mike, Kelli, Olivia, Nolan, Lauren) were patiently awaiting the reveal Saturday during the Hockey Night in Canada telecast. They are frequent visitors to the Lumsden Rink as both Nolan and Lauren play hockey for teams sponsored by the local Lions club.
Like so many Prairie towns, Lumsden, SK is a hockey town. But it’s more than that; it’s a thriving and growing community that has an energy and vibe that makes it different.@NHL @NHLPA @Sportsnet
— Kraft Hockeyville (@hockeyville) April 5, 2021
“I was just sweating, hoping all of our hard work paid off,” said Olivia.
The entire family was involved in the campaign, decorating and encouraging anyone who would listen to vote.
“We voted and voted and voted,” said Olivia’s mom Kelli.
“Olivia was online all night, she slept for two hours and we knew some of the other communities were very deserving, but we wanted to bring it home to Saskatchewan.”
In the end, Elsipotog First Nation in New Brunswick came out on top to win grand prize of $250,000 for arena upgrades and the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game.
Lumsden and the other two finalists were each awarded $25,000 for arena upgrades and $10,000 in equipment. Lees says this will be put to good use but the money won’t come close to what is needed for their plans to improve their female hockey program and add more changerooms.
Lumsden’s rink is not funded by tax dollars — unlike many others in Saskatchewan. Instead, they rely on volunteers and fundraising.
Lees said most of their funding comes from the town’s Annual Duck Derby, which typically brings in around $60,000 but was not held last year because of the pandemic.
“That’s the tough part right now is figuring out what is the next,” said Lees.
“Ultimately, we’d love to get the duck derby up and going again but clearly that’s not going to happen in a live–event form so even just figuring out how we can bring it virtual and what that is going to look like.”
While the result was not what Lumsden and its supporters were hoping for, Kelli said the event brought the community closer together after a hard year.
“If anything, it really brought the community together especially because we haven’t seen people,” said Kelli. “Usually, we hang out at the rink but because of the pandemic, half of us don’t even know the parents and kids on our teams.
“So, this kind of got everyone talking again and sharing photos and it’s something we really needed for the past couple weeks. I think we proved that the hockey community is the heart of Saskatchewan.”