North Saanich rink in the running for 2015 Hockeyville title

Panorama is in the top 10 in Kraft Canada contest; top entry will win $100,000 and an NHL exhibition game.

Volunteer and hockey dad Jason Fletcher also knows how to write up a great application. His nomination of Panorama Recreation Centre to the 2015 Kraft Hockeyville contest has the Saanich Peninsula facility in the top 10.

Panorama’s hockey rink has cracked the top 10 facilities across Canada in this year’s Kraft Canada Hockeyville contest.

Now, says the man who nominated the arena, the real work begins to secure the votes to get them into the top two.

Jason Fletcher, a long-time volunteer and hockey dad, couldn’t help but know that Panorama Recreation Centre’s Arena B made the short list during Saturday night’s broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC and Rogers Sportsnet. He says he was not watching but instead participating in a family birthday party. No sooner were the Hockeyville finalists revealed than he started receiving texts and phone messages. And when Kraft called, he had to pick up.

“It was really, really cool,” he says. “We are in the top 10 and in the top five in the west.”

Not bad for getting the nomination in with only about an hour to spare back in February.

The 2015 Kraft Hockeyville contest picks 10 arenas across the country from out of more than one thousand entries. That select group takes home $25,000 no matter the outcome of the voting yet to come. Later this month, Kraft,  the CBC and Sportsnet will announce the top two Hockeyville communities — with each winning $100,000 toward arena upgrades. The community with the most votes overall has the added bonus of hosting an NHL exhibition game.

Fletcher says he’s pleased Panorama and the Saanich Peninsula  ranked so highly thus far — and now it’s time to get out the vote.

“It’ll happen quick,” he says.

Voting among the top 10 arenas will commence this Saturday night (March 21) after being announced on Hockey Night in Canada at 8 p.m. (PST). Fletcher says it’s 48 hours of activity in which he and other volunteers hope to reach out on social media and the traditional media to get people to vote — and vote as often as they can.

The top two communities out of that voting will each win $100,000. Then, on March 28, same time and place, voting for the winner out of those two finalists begins.

Fletcher says it’ll be important for voters to do their thing again — should Panorama get that far.

“You can’t help but dream,” he says.

Fletcher says he nominated Panorama Arena B to help get the facility some much-needed upgrades.

“As a volunteer, I saw the needs around the arena.”

A timekeeper for the Peninsula Panthers Junior B hockey team, Fletcher says they don’t have locker room space. Other community groups like Peninsula Minor Hockey and Peninsula Lacrosse, could use meeting and storage space. Fletcher says whatever they win through Hockeyville will only be the beginning — he hopes the community will step up through the publicity created by the contest to help meet those needs at the arena.

Panthers’ coach Pete Zubersky says he’s helping get the word out, too.

“I think it’s going to be really big,” he says.

Both Fletcher and Zubersky credited the staff at Panorama Rec. Centre for jumping on board, too. Fletcher says Panorama is already making waves on social media about the Hockeyville voting period this weekend and next.

People are being encouraged to vote as often as they like. Fletcher says for Panorama to crack the top two, it’ll need at least one million votes. He’s reaching out into the community and across Vancouver Island, getting the word out, and looking for votes.

Voting starts this Saturday night at 8 p.m. at khv2015.ca.

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