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by Holly L.
I would like to nominate the War Memorial rink in Johnstown and the hockey fans of Johnstown, PA for Kraft Hockeyville because I believe this town is a very passionate hockey community. There is a rich hockey heritage here. I remember as a teenager attending hockey games of the Johnstown Jets at the War Memorial. The movie "Slapshot" was filmed here, which to this day has a "cult" following with hockey enthusiasts even though it was filmed in 1977. The Johnstown Chiefs played here until they moved to South Carolina in 2010. In 2012, The Alaska Avalanche team was sold and became the Johnstown Tomahawks, a junior hockey team which has widespread support in this area. This area has a passion about hockey that would rival that of any NHL team. Every year more children are enrolled in youth hockey programs throughout this area, including the "Little Pens" program, supported by the Pittsburgh Penguins, for children 4-7 years, and it just continues from there into all kinds of youth hockey and high school hockey. The War Memorial has seen better days and could certainly use some upgrades, including some issues with the ice making equipment, and particularly with the scoreboard, which doesn't always work correctly. In spite of this, the fans support the teams that play in the War Memorial, and the attendance at the Johnstown Tomahawks games is very good. Over the years, there have been many young men who have made their debut on the ice here but eventually played in the NHL, including 46 of the old Johnstown Jets, and 31 of the Johnstown Chiefs. We are anxiously awaiting for the first Johnstown Tomahawk to be drafted to the NHL, and the city we just celebrate with delight. I am a grandmother who has watched this town recover from many economic calamities and the 1977 Johnstown flood, but people have never lost their passion for this game, even when things looked bleak and without hope. It is exciting to look back, and to look forward at my age and still see the excitement that people have for this game and for the kids that play it, no matter what happens. I now have a 5 year old grandson learning to play hockey, and hope that he also will appreciate the great hockey heritage in this community, which is why I am nominating Johnstown, PA as the most passionate hockey community.
Lakeview Arena / Marquette, mi
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.