Beauval vies for Kraft Hockeyville

By Mac Christie

The outdoor ice rink in Beauval isn’t up and running yet, but some community members are hoping they’ll be able to get a new arena through a national contest.

A group of citizens, spearheaded by Valleyview School teachers Sam Dawson and Andrew Wilson has entered Beauval in Kraft Hockeyville, a national contest where the winning community gets $100,000 to upgrade its arena.

Dawson said the project is something for the whole community to get behind.

“Hockey is something that’s really important here in the North,” he said. “The general idea is to try and get some money and try to get us a new rink.”

The contest revolves around community spirit and a passion for hockey. In addition to the $100,000 the winner also receives a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast from their community and an NHL preseason game. The other communities in the top five get $25,000 to upgrade their rink and a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

Beauval has been without an arena since fire destroyed the old one in April.

Dawson noted as many people as possible need to get on board.

“I think we’re a prime case,” he explained. “We’ve got a small dedicated community and the North takes care of each other.”

The first two steps of the project are already in motion, where the people sign up and tell a story about hockey in Beauval.

“After that we basically plead our case and say this is why we deserve it,” Dawson said, noting the actual voting for the project won’t happen until the spring.

Beauval village worker Travis Rediron clears the snow on the outdoor rink in Beauval Dec. 7. The rink has been flooded and it should be up and running soon.

In the meantime, the NHL-sized outdoor rink has been delayed by warm weather and water issues, said mayor Fred Roy.

“They were using the fire hydrants too much so they had to quit flooding,” he explained, adding the increased demand meant turbidity levels in drinking water increased, leading to a boil water advisory.

Roy said signing up for Hockeyville was a good idea.

“I’m glad they took the initiative and entered our community,” he added.

But village recreation director Kim Felske said there has been zero interest in minor hockey so far this year. In fact, she said some of last year’s atom players have even put their equipment up for sale.

She thinks that not having an arena may have contributed to the problem, but said she was prepared to travel to surrounding communities to play.

“I’ll keep trying,” she said of signing up players. “Maybe when the rink’s done, people will sign up.”

Roy said residents may not have realized what their options were for hockey, adding they can play in surrounding communities, such as Ile-a-la Crosse.

“I think people thought, ‘We don’t have an arena, where are we going to skate?’” he said. “We should make a phone call and tell them what their options are.”

Dawson said the same was true of the high school hockey team he was planning to coach.

“With no rink, interest dropped,” he said. “It’s hard to motivate kids to drive an hour or an hour-and-a-half for practice.”

Still, he thinks the village stands a good chance to win the contest.

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