By @MichaelCaples –
The hockey community has spoken, and Lakeview Arena is the winner of a major competition.
The historic ice arena in Marquette, Mich., is the 2016 winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA after a national voting contest throughout the month of April.
With the victory over the course of three rounds of fan voting, the former home of the Northern Michigan Wildcats will receive $150,000 for facility upgrades, and Marquette will get to host a NHL preseason game inside Lakeview Arena next fall.
The NBC broadcast with the official announcement states that Lakeview Arena will host a game on Oct. 4, 2016 between the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes.
Lakeview Arena topped South Dakota’s Rushmore Thunderdome in the final round of voting to win Hockeyville 2016.
The Marquette arena’s journey to Hockeyville 2016 started with a reader submission from Fritz Hoenke, which Hockeyville organizers deemed worthy of making Lakeview Arena one of ten finalists for the contest.
The roof leaks, the boards and glass are worn, the compressor is tired so that the beginning of the period has a slow puck plowing through water. And yet, and yet…………. Hanging from the ceiling are over 60 banners with state and national championships and runners-up in all levels of junior hockey boys and girls, and five state championships and 4 runners up in high school hockey, including the longest game in high school history with eight overtimes of eight minutes resulting in a tie called at midnight. Northern Michigan University played here when they won their Division 1 NCAA national title. Marquette and Lakeview Arena located in the center of the far northern remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the UP, with five months of winter ( or more ), 12 months of hockey, and sparsely populated with Yoopers. Tough people for whom hockey is THE sport. The UP is the birthplace of professional hockey . People who embrace the sport and embody the best of the its values — toughness, persistence, humility, teamwork. People who love physical hockey but adore skating, passing, and puck movement. How can this town of 20,000 , located 180 miles from any city bigger than it, continue to compete? Weekend road trips 8 hours south to Detroit to find the competition, or Chicago , or Wisconsin and Minnesota, to places where each suburb with all of its advantages and multiple rinks and population perhaps as large at the whole UP, are just part of the expectation to play the great sport. The attitude is always “we can compete, we can win, we belong here, we are Yoopers”. Even when they aren’t as strong as the other team, the attitude is the same. The kids grow up, their kids play hockey, as adults they carry forth the lessons learned playing the greatest sport on earth of toughness, durability, persistence, teamwork, humility, and they embody the values in their lives. They work in the mines, or they have to move away for work and try to return, they go to West Point and fight in Afghanistan, they become doctors and mechanics and teachers. And hockey remains in them. A community that loves hockey. When the state championship is won, the police and fire meet the returning bus miles out of town, escorting it sirens wailing past lines of people in the streets, ending at that tired old rink. What would winning this contest mean to this isolated rural community with such history, such passion, such a legacy from hockey? Everything. Everything.
It will be the first opportunity for the State of Michigan to enjoy all that comes with a Kraft Hockeyville win; in 2015, Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie reached the final four in voting, only to see the Johnstown Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Pennsylvania win the inaugural contest.
That arena – which was where the movie “Slap Shot” took place – played host to a preseason game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lighting.
The Hurricanes and Sabres have confirmed the news.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 30, 2016
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 30, 2016
Stay tuned for more on the exciting announcement of a Michigan rink winning Kraft Hockeyville USA…
Social media reactions
— Lakeview Arena (@LakeviewArena) April 30, 2016
— Sam Bauman (@TV6sAM) April 30, 2016
From now on when people ask where I went to school all I have to say is "Hockeyville" ..Congrats @LakeviewArena !! No city deserves it more.
— Joe (@J_Mats88) April 30, 2016
— Kraft Hockeyville US (@HockeyvilleUSA) April 30, 2016