The tiny bedroom community of Bedeque is one step closer to becoming Hockeyville 2014. It's such a huge feat for such a petite place. The Bedeque rink supporters first beat out over 600 entries in the Kraft Hockeyville contest to make it into the top 16 communities in Canada - eight from the West and eight more from the East.
The Top 4 in the country were announced late Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada and Central Bedeque was there.
While the core of support for the Bedeque rink is located within the close-knit community, the support and enthusiasm has spread far and wide. Even national broadcaster and former Summerside resident, Doug MacLean, had a shout-out for the Bedeque rink on his show "Hockey Central at Noon" on Rogers Sportsnet and "Fan 590 in Toronto." Surely MacLean's plea to sports fans nationwide helped drum up support for the P.E.I. rink.
But the bulk of the credit has to go Dave MacDonald and Brian Rogers along with a group of Bedeque rink supporters, who kept the tiny arena going mostly through volunteer effort this winter, then put together an impressive video to submit to the CBC Hockeyville contest and stirred up the community to get the support behind them for the subsequent votes that eventually pushed Bedeque to the top of the heap.
The little Bedeque arena is now up against the Credit Union Centre in Kingston, N.S. Kingston is also a small, rural community located in the heart of Annapolis Valley, surrounded by farmland and fruit orchards. Its population is just over 5,000.
Central Bedeque is considerably smaller, with a population of less than 200 people, and is also a rural community surrounded by farmland.
But, as we have seen over the past few weeks, what Bedeque lacks in size, it makes up for in spirit. The enthusiasm of area residents is catching and its support is growing.
Making it to the Top 4 means the rink already has $50,000, which will go a long way to improving the facility and perhaps allow them to purchase a new ice plant to replace the antique that now keeps the ice frozen.
But if Bedeque makes it to the next level - the Hockeyville East winner - that amount will expand to $100,000. That's an enormous influx of funds for this community rink and should go a long way to ensuring the rink remains operating for years to come.
So vote Bedeque at http://krafthockeyville.cbc.ca before the end of St. Patrick's Day. And may the luck of the Irish be with us.