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Update: Smoke n' Guns helps Castlegar Hockeyville effort

Jim Sinclair photos

Castlegar is on the right track in terms of its bid to earn the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2014. The first stage was completed last Sunday at one second to 9 p.m.

Now is the time for a bit of a breather until the same time on Saturday, March 8 during the Hockey Night in Canada telecast on CBC TV. At that time, 16 communities from across the country, half each in east and west, will be revealed. If Castlegar is one of those named, we're in for a super-intense 48-hour drive for votes.

It was only in the last couple of weeks that the local effort came about, spearheaded by Castlegar city councillors Sue-Heaton-Sherstobitoff and Dan Rye.

A squad of influential locals was assembled for the early nomination phase of the proceedings and, by all reports, a strong and effective response was generated.

At stake with the Kraft Hockeyville program, along with valuable publicity and goodwill for the successful community, are some major upgrades for the local arena in the selected city, town or district. In our case it's the Castlegar Community Complex. But however the chips may fall when it's all said and done, the exercise will have been a positive one according to Heaton-Sherstobitoff, who said on Feb. 11: "The good thing about all this is the spin-offs. It looks like we're going to do something with the Rebels every year," she outlined. "It'll be like 'Rebels-with-a-Cause.' We will have events with them, like everyone gets in for $5 plus a donation for some cause."

Last Saturday's fun and frantic Smoke n' Guns road hockey showdown has spurred the interest in something ongoing as well.

"The fire and police departments want to have an annual road hockey game," Heaton-Sherstobitoff continued. "That's what I was hoping from this, that we would have that spirit to spin off into something else, and it definitely has. To me… that's who we win."

To close, here is an excerpt from a Feb. 10 email fromSue to those helping promote the Castlegar effort:

"I just want to say 'thank you' to all of you for getting the word out about 'Castlegar is Kraft Hockeyville 2014.'

At 8:59:59 last night we had 461 members and 589 uploads which is fantastic. My goal was to get between 400 and 500 nominations so this community definitely showed its support! Our facebook page has 1216 likes which is amazing!

"To all those who came out to the two Saints games, to the Kraft Hockeyville Night in Castlegar with the Rebels and to the Smoke and Guns Road Hockey Game  - thank you. In 17 days we managed to get the word out and show the rest of Canada what Community Spirit is all about.

"Now to start planning the next stage. If Castlegar is announced (on March 8) we will need to have a plan in place to open up a couple of voting stations and have groups staff the stations around the clock as we would have 48 hours to get as many votes as we can."

Here's hoping we're in on the 48-hour campaign! Watch for updates.

With a generous helping hand for each of the squads from the Castlegar Rebels – police, firefighters and city council members donned their game faces on Saturday afternoon on the parking lot of the Castlegar Community Complex.

As the shouting was about to die down, the firefighters' club, which included the plucky Lawrence "Nose for the Net" Chernoff, had recorded an 11-9 win in the spirited "Smoke n' Guns" challenge.

The whole event was staged on a sunny and frigid day to demonstrate why Castlegar deserves to be known as Kraft Hockeyville 2014!

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