Rally page entries are beginning to pile up online for the Prince George-based Northern Capitals, who have thrown their name in the ring for this year’s 2021 Kraft Hockeyville competition.
The annual, online event, for the past 15 years, has provided $250,000 worth of arena upgrades and improvements, along with the right for the region to host an NHL preseason game, to the winner.
In 2020, the BC Female Midget AAA League’s Northern Capitals became the first female team to host a BC Winter Classic when they played a three-game series against the Great Vancouver Comets at both the Vanderhoof Arena, the Fort Forum in Fort St. James and an outdoor game at the Ernie Sam Memorial Arena which, ultimately, aimed to promote female hockey in Northern B.C.
The Capitals’ bid, if successful, will bring $250,000 worth of arena upgrades to the open-air Ernie Sam Memorial Arena in Fort St. James, located on the traditional territory of the Nak’azdli Whut’en.
Cariboo Hockey, which oversees the area’s six, regional AAA teams, including the Capitals, finalized its bid Saturday, said Cariboo Hockey spokesperson Caleb Wilson.
“It’s been pretty cool to see the local support already, and the support from the Fort St James and Nak’azdli Whut’en,” Wilson said.
He added the Kraft Hockeyville organizers reached out to the Capitals, encouraging them to submit a nomination, after their involvement during last year’s Winter Classic.
Nominations are open online until Feb. 14, before a judging period takes place until March 19. After that, a top-four announcement will be made, before voting opens from April 9 at 6 a.m. until April 10 at 2 p.m. The winner will be announced on April 10.
The Ernie Sam Memorial Arena also played host to the BC Winter Classic in 2019, and Wilson said the Nak’azdli Whut’en community has been a major supporter of the event.
“They put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that arena to make sure it was ready to use,” Wilson said. “Our goal with the nomination is to make sure that rink gets further upgrades. We want to give back to that community so we can continue to run that event for both boys and girls and give them a chance to play in a Winter Classic, as well as other opportunities to use that arena year round.”
In 2020, Paige Outhouse, Pyper Alexander and Brette Kerley from Williams Lake, and goaltender Cadence Petitclerc-Crosby of 100 Mile House, suited up for BC Winter Classic as members of the Northern Capitals.
Outhouse went on to receive an athletic scholarship from the University of Prince Edward Island following her last season with the team, while Kerley, in her final season this year, will suit up for the University of Calgary Dinos for the 2021/22 season.
Williams Lake’s Kerley, Alexander, Keira Vermeulen and Rachel Loewen are playing for the Northern Capitals this season.
Submissions or, if you’d like to help the region accumulate more rally points, can be made at the Ernie Sam Memorial Arena Kraft Hockeyville page at www.krafthockeyville.ca.