The winner of this year’s Kraft Hockeyville competition was announced last weekend and the town of Pense, Sask., missed the net, so to speak.
However, former Dragon’s Den panel member W. Brett Wilson picked up the rebound and Pense may score after all.
In a tweet sent Aug. 16, Wilson, who was born in Saskatchewan, offered to match the $25,000 the town earned as finishing runner-up in the Kraft competition, and has encouraged fellow Saskatchewan business people to do likewise.
“My #SK homeland folks in @PenseHockey didn’t get votes needed to win @KRAFT @Hockeyville — but they are the real deal,” Wilson tweeted. “I will match the $25k they did receive & encourage a few of my homeland heroes to either RT or step in to support.”
Wilson tagged former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, real estate developer Craig Lothian, and Saskatoon-based investor Greg Yuel in his tweet.
The news made for a bit of a rollercoaster weekend for the team in Pense that organized the Hockeyville bid.
“I was just about to leave the house Sunday (Aug. 16) morning to go clean up the rink — we were hoping there was going to be a bit of a celebration there Saturday night,” said Graeme Crosbie, one of the 10-member Pense rink board working on the Hockeyville bid. “A friend sent me a text with a screenshot of Brett Wilson’s tweet — it was a bit of a shock.”
Crosbie said Wilson’s offer left him feeling emotional following the shock of the loss the previous night.
“Our team, this community did everything we could, we thought we had this thing,” recalled Crosbie after they learned Twillingate, N.L. won. “This is such a generous offer, we definitely appreciate (Wilson’s) support.”
Crosbie said the generosity hasn’t stopped there. The Hockeyville competition has raised the profile of the small prairie town, and its arena, just 20 kilometres west of Regina.
“We’ve gotten a lot of messages from across the country from people asking to donate,” said Crosbie. “So we’re working with the town to see how we can facilitate that. We’d be foolish to turn down all these offers of support.
“It’s hard to say if we would do it again. It was a lot of fun but it was a lot of hard work, too.”