By Greg Price
Minor Hockey Week is here and what better way to celebrate than to cast your vote/support for Taber in the Kraft Hockeyville contest for a chance at an NHL preseason hockey game and $250,000.
“Everybody should log into Kraft Hockeyville and support the Taber Arena. Lots of people have Twitter or Instagram. It’s really easy to do now. It would be unbelievable to win that,” said Danny Remfert, president of Taber Minor Hockey Association. “With the Golden Suns “AA” program, we are the hub that brings all the communities in Brooks, Coaldale, Picture Butte, Foremost, and Vauxhall who all get to play here. Also, with our minor hockey, we got two initiation teams, two novice, two atom, peewee, bantam and midget to go with our three Golden Suns teams. That’s Brooks and south, Medicine Hat and west, east of Lethbridge all the way to the border, that’s a big bunch of players that can play in our programs in Taber. We also still have a thriving men’s league and Old Timers is still big in Taber. They went to Vegas and have an upcoming one in Nashville for tournaments. It’d be nice to get back some junior hockey, but we have some rich history with that too.”
The Taber Arena could certainly use a $250,000 top prize for either the small ice that is long overdue for renovations according to independent studies or the large ice arena which can seat around 1,500 people.
Locals are encouraged to share stories, photos, videos and the Taber rally page on the site to emphasize what makes Taber a hockey town and what the sport means to the community.
“We want your favourite stories and things going on there at the arena. The rink has always been a hub of Taber. Every weekend you can see a half dozen games going on each day, especially with the small ice. Having the small ice is nice so we don’t have to do half-ice hockey for initiation and novice,” said Remfert. “We would love to put more money into the small ice, it needs it really bad. A small-ice upgrade would be unbelievable. Hockey Canada has made half ice a mandate and so with the small ice, we have a really good product to put on the ice, but not really a way to watch it. We have tournaments on the small ice, but the seating is very limited and the heating is minimal. It would be nice to make it nicer for people to be able to watch.”
Remfert has been pleased with how the season has been progressing at all ages for the Oil Kings minor hockey programs and the Taber Golden Suns Athletic Association, where most programs are holding their own competitively in their respective tier in older categories, along with the kids having fun.
Taber has been able to host initiation, novice, atom and peewee tournaments for the 2019/2020 hockey season.
“Moving novice and initiation to the small ice opened us up to have a peewee tournament,” said Remfert. “I haven’t really seen a downturn in hockey since I became a member of the board five or six years ago.”
As of earlier this week, Taber has been the only southern Alberta community to have submitted a nomination for Kraft Hockeyville, where Remfert hopes surrounding communities will vote and support Taber’s submission. By submitting a nomination story, sharing it on social media, or adding to the nomination package, Taber’s submission can collect points that will help to ensure the local arena makes it to the next stage of Kraft Hockeyville.
“If I was in Brooks, Vauxhall, Coaldale, Picture Butte, Foremost, Lethbridge, this would help them too. Outside voting would be great for an area that has proven to be a central hub for hockey in southern Alberta,” said Remfert. “Lots of these communities are sending their more elite kids (’AA’) to this community for up to seven years to participate in what we have here. Go support this.”
To help out the Taber Ice Arena bid, log onto http://www.krafthockeyville.ca. Type in Taber Ice Arena on the Find My Arena area of the Web page and follow the instructions to share your stories, photos and videos to get the word out on what the arena and hockey means to the community. The stories are worth the most points in the competition, although all rallying points are appreciated.
The nomination period opened on Jan. 1 and continues until Feb. 9.