TERRACE, B.C. – Terrace may be small, but when it comes to a hockey fight the community has enough passion to keep up with any NHL tough guy.
The northwestern B.C. community has been named by CBC as Hockeyville 2009 after a record number of votes poured in, beating out 7,100 other communities in Canada for the title.
Terrace Mayor David Pernarowski said Sunday the community had a lot of passion wrapped up in the campaign and they’re savouring the thrill of victory.
“(It) was just awesome to see the spirit and the electricity in the air,” Pernarowski said. “It was really something to experience in Terrace, the people were on board with this contest the whole time.”
Terrace and its neighbouring community have a population of about 20,000, but somehow it managed to generate more than 1.9 million votes collected over the telephone, online and by text.
“It’s an incredible number,” the mayor laughed. “It’s really even hard to imagine how a community the size of Terrace could pull that off.”
Its closest competitor was Humboldt, Sask., with more than one million fewer votes.
The final vote results in the Hockeyville contest exceeded all previous records with more than 6.3 million votes.
Pernarowski credits the community’s success with support from all other nearby communities and the entire province.
“It was amazing. Where ever I travelled people were saying we’re voting for you, we’re supporting Terrace. So it was really kind of special in that people were looking at Terrace and saying we want to help them to win this thing.”
Even B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was spotted wearing a “Terrace is Hockeyville” hockey jersey in support and issued a public plea to British Columbian’s before Saturday’s announcement to vote for Terrace.
The premier was no less enthusiastic after the winner was announced.
“Terrace rallied together to show the country why their community deserved to be Hockeyville and at the same time demonstrates the kind of spirit that makes the northwest such an incredible part of our province,” Campbell said in a news release.
The victory means Terrace will host the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders in an NHL pre-season game in September and receive a $100,000 upgrade on its arena.
Even with the arena upgrade, it will be impossible to squeeze all those who voted for Terrace into the arena during the pre-season game.
The arena holds about 1,800 people, but Pernarowski said they’re already considering some kind of closed-circuit broadcast to a neighbouring facility to extend the party.
Humboldt and three other Canadian towns that earned the most votes will receive $25,000 towards arena upgrades.