Kraft Hockeyville, USA: Hurst is in the running

Amber Matha, Editor in chief

Kraft Hockeyville, USA 2018 is in full swing, and the Mercyhurst Ice Center is in the running to be named in the top four communities.  Hockeyville, USA is a partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL) in which people get to nominate their local ice arena for upgrades and other prizes.

The rink nomination phase of this year’s competition ran from Jan. 1 to March 10.  In this stage, people were able to write testimonials and post stories explaining their experience at the ice rink and why their nominated rink was worth being recognized.  People had to answer questions such as “How would you describe your community’s passion and spirit for hockey?” “What rink project would most benefit from the prize money?” and “Why should your community be the next Kraft Hockeyville, USA 2018?”

The number of nominations and shares of the rink on social media results in an overall “rally score.” The more testimonials and shares for a particular rink, the higher the rally score for that rink. This score accounts for 10 percent of the judging criteria.  The Mercyhurst Ice Center had a total of 11 stories and 33 pictures/videos shared. As a result, the “rally meter” is nearly full, showing that Mercyhurst is likely a strong competitor.  Ten points are awarded to the rally score for each story posted, three points are given for picture or video submissions, and one point is given for brief notes (basically tweet-length posts about the ice rink).

Overall, with the number of stories, pictures and notes, Mercyhurst is at a grand total of 220 points. This is not including the points given for each time someone shared the link to Twitter (five points each) or reacted to a photo or story (one point each).  The judging phase of the competition ran from March 11 to March 16. This determined the top four finalists. These results will be released on April 1. After the release of the top four, another voting period ensues where the final rankings are determined.

If Mercyhurst were to be placed in the top four, the Ice Center would be in the running for at least $10,000 in rink upgrades, which is the prize for third- and fourth-place winners. The second-place winner will receive $30,000 in rink upgrades. Finally, the most coveted prize is the Grand Prize title of “Hockeyville, USA” which is paired with $150,000 in rink upgrades and the opportunity for the rink to host an NHL Pre-season Game.

Any amount of money to put toward upgrades to the Ice Center would be a welcome gift to the Mercyhurst community.  One of the testimonials states, “While we can’t lay claim to a skyline full of skyscrapers or a Stanley Cup-winning team, there are a few things Erie takes pride in: a friendly neighborhood atmosphere, diversity, world-class sunsets and hockey.”

Mercyhurst and Erie as a whole have been home to Division I hockey teams that have yielded Olympians.  Erie has welcomed Ontrario Hockey League Erie Otters players who have become NHL All-Stars, such as Connor McDavid. Our ice center is home to club hockey teams as well.  The Mercyhurst and Erie communities are hopeful that the Mercyhurst Ice Center can come out on top in the competition.  “It is our hope that an improved Mercyhurst Ice Arena will serve the community by allowing the next generation of Erie ice athletes to reach their full potential,” another testimonial said.