The room was electric with expectation as a crowd of about 500 people waited for the announcement which would send ripples of exaltation spreading across Sylvan Lake, Alberta and Canada.
The community centre was full to capacity Saturday evening with an avid group of people, young and old, who waited patiently for the end of the second period in Hockey Night in Canada’s Edmonton Oilers-Calgary Flames game as it tilted overwhelmingly in Calgary’s favour.
They were waiting to hear how Sylvan Lake fared in the Kraft Hockeyville competition to climb to Top 2 and begin the final round of voting.
As the period wound down, entertainment provided by West of the Fifth halted, the volume was turned up on the television program projected on a large screen, and everyone focused on the message they so anticipated. There were several groans as commercials intruded delaying the message to 9:58 p.m. — just in time for the beginning of voting at 10 p.m.
Salmon Arm’s total was flashed first — 847,193 votes in the previous 48 hour voting session. Then Sylvan Lake flashed onto the screen and the numbers started spiralling higher and higher. After they surpassed Salmon Arm’s total, the crowd erupted in screams of joy, hands flying overhead in victory, high five’s, handshakes, hugs and other expressions of relief. The town had captured the top spot in the west and moved into the Top 2 in the country. Sylvan Lake’s total stopped at 1,563,797 — almost double Salmon Arm’s total.
Then people turned back to the screen to see what happened in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The result — Kingston, Nova Scotia recorded 1,472,836 votes to capture the Eastern berth over Central Bedeque, PEI with 1,403,259 votes.
Sylvan led the whole country with the most votes.
The evening was truly a community and family affair with youngsters eagerly seated in front of the television screen when they weren’t playing floor hockey, dancing or chasing each other. Food, entertainment, games, door prizes and more were enjoyed by people as they visited and talked about their previous voting experiences while eagerly waiting.
Later in the evening, Sylvan’s organizers were provided with figures from the previous round of voting which showed the community’s efforts had also surpassed all of the other Top 16 competitors. It polled 1,059,932 in that round — the second highest was Kingston at 824,208.
With Saturday’s announcement, Sylvan Lake has earned $100,000 towards arena upgrades at the multiplex. The final round of voting was to decide who claimed the Hockeyville 2014 title, the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game this fall, and more publicity on Hockey Night in Canada and CBC.
Judging from response in the following 48 hour voting window, which ended Monday at 10 p.m., everyone delved into the voting mode with renewed fervour — the campaign’s Facebook page — Sylvan Lake Hockeyville 2014 — the most up-to-date portal on all Sylvan’s activities — reported voters responding from across the country indicating their votes were coming Sylvan’s way.
Now that voting’s over, things haven’t slowed for the Spirit of Sylvan Hockeyville organizing committee. They’re now required to put on a huge celebration event in the multiplex the evening the final results are announced — Saturday, April 5. (See separate story for more information on initial plans.)