Written with files from Tracey Moody

Saskatchewan once again has a finalist in the competition for Kraft Hockeyville 2024. The community of Wolseley, SK, joins Elliot Lake, ON, Cochrane, AB, and Enderby, BC as the four places vying to earn $250,000 for skating rink upgrades, along with the chance to host a pre-season NHL game.   

The Town of Wilkie is no stranger to a bid for Kraft Hockeyville, after the community made it into the final round of voting back in 2019. They aren't in the running this year, but are throwing all of their support behind Wolseley to try and bring the title home to the prairies for the first time. 

Wilkie's Helen Urlacher and Kathy Heilman have put their heart and soul into Hockeyville over the years, and they are the ones spearheading the local campaign for the southeast Saskatchewan town.

Helen Urlacher Kathy Heilman.jpg Kathy Heilman (left) and Helen Urlacher (right) during a past Hockeyville campaign for Wilkie (Photo courtesy Helen Urlacher)

"We've had so many Saskatchewan towns since Wilkie broke through," said Urlacher, referencing another impressive run for Wilkie back in 2017. "(Recently) there was Lumsden, and just so many other towns coming so very-close. Every time Kathy and I in Wilkie can support anyone in Saskatchewan, we are most definitely going to do it."

Urlacher pointed out the impressive nature of a town containing less than 900 people leading their community to a place in the finals. Urlacher is hoping that west-central Saskatchewan can channel their previous Kraft Hockeyville local spirit, and send it about 500 kilometres headed east.

"There voices were heard, so I mean, in west-central Saskatchewan we all know how that Hockeyville fever is, and how exciting it is, and how it must feel for Wolseley. We want to finally break the barriers of having a Saskatchewan town win. Kraft Hockeyville has been in operation since 2006 across Canada, giving many communities a lot of opportunities to renew their rinks, and livelihoods." said Urlacher, who hopes to swing all of the support she can across the province.

All Urlacher needed next was the support of her partner in crime.

"I gave Kathy a call, and said what do you think? Of course she said yes. She's an amazing firecracker, Kathy. We just wanted to broadcast our support in getting people to help Wolseley out."

Urlacher later reached out to Town of Wolseley to share their plans. 

"I said, "Wilkie is supporting you, and wishing you all the best of luck!" They replied right away and thanked me for the support. We asked North Battleford to start shouting them out, because we feel Saskatchewan needs to win it this year. It's been too long. We need one of our towns to break through, and then the domino effect will start."

Getting into the final four is difficult, Urlacher knows that. It's also well-known how hard it is for small-town Saskatchewan to drum-up support against much bigger centres.

"Once you get into the Top 4, you really need a big push." said Urlacher, sharing that the voting begins at the end of the month. "Voting is so important, and I mean, it's constant. Vote, vote, vote. I'm not a robot." joked Urlacher. "We really need to push the voting, because in the end that is what's most important. If you don't see that support at the voting process, then you will never make it as the winner. It's really vital and important that we all band together, round up the troops, and hit the phones to vote for Wolseley, Saskatchewan to be the (province's) first Kraft Hockeyville winner. That would be wonderful."

Voting starts on March 29 at 9 a.m. ET and runs through March 30 at 5 p.m. ET, and whoever has the most votes will win the grand prize. You can find the Kraft Hockeyville page here. Find a story below from Discover Moose Jaw featuring comments from Wolseley mayor Gerald Hill.