USA Hockey Magazine

February 2015

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Page 37 of 67

Y ou never forget your first love. Or the first time you step into a hockey rink. For many, those two feelings are one in the same. Kraft Foods is celebrat- ing that passion for the game and the way it brings families and communities together by expanding its popular Kraft Hockeyville program into the United States. The award-winning program started as a reality television series on CBC Television and quickly evolved into an annual celebra- tion of Canada's commitment to the game. According to Kraft executives who have been instrumental in growing the program over the years, the time is right to celebrate that same commitment that lives in hockey communities throughout the United States. "Kraft Hockeyville is about recognizing community pride and connection. The con- duit is through the love of the game of hockey," said Dino Bianco, exec- utive vice president and pres- ident, Kraft Beverages. "First of all, it's such a connecting way for families and neigh- bors and all parts of the community, but it's also about com- munity pride around the game of hockey." C o m m u n i t i e s around the U.S. can enter for a chance to win a $150,000 arena makeover cour- tesy of Kraft, have an NHL preseason game played in its local arena be showcased on TV and earn the title "Kraft Hockeyville 2015." The first runner-up community will receive $75,000, while eight others will receive prize money ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to be used for rink upgrades. S i n c e i t s i n c e p t i o n i n 2 0 0 6 , K r a f t Hockeyville has awarded more than $1.6 million towards local hockey arena upgrades in more than 40 communities in Canada. According to Bianco, arenas have used the prize money in a myriad of ways to spruce up their surroundings or improve programming that benefits the community. "[Winners have] used it for new lighting, to spruce up their locker rooms or make their rinks handicapped accessible, to build women's locker rooms, or improve the first aid stations in their lobby," he said. "It just depends on what their needs are in that community. Some have used it to improve some of the programming they offer [such as] coaching clinics or learn-to-skate programs. "There really aren't a lot of restrictions put on how the prize money can be used, as long as it's geared toward making the rink a better place for the community." The community pride and recognition that goes along with earning the title of Kraft Hockeyville is often worth more than just the prize money. "Ultimately, whether you're a hockey family, a baseball family or a football family, when you see the stories you'll connect with what this program is all about: community, family and a passion for the game. I think that will transcend beyond hockey," said Bianco, a Toronto-area native who stays connected to the game as an adult hockey player in Skokie, Ill. In the case of Dundas, Ontario, the recog- nition even helped save the local rink from the government chopping block. According to Barry Forth, who helped spearhead Dundas' Hockeyville campaign, Kraft Expands Popular Program To Give U.S. Communities A Chance To Show Their Passion For The Game FEBRUARY. 2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Hockeyville Is Where The He♥rt Is BY HARRY THOMPSON 36

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