Kraft Hockeyville

WATCH LIVE: 2019 Kraft Hockeyville USA features Blues, Red Wings

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season begins with Thursday night’s Kraft Hockeyville USA matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues from Calumet, Mich. Coverage begins at 7p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

This year marks the 5th season of the Kraft Hockeyville USA campaign, whose mission is to help build better hockey communities across the country. The village of Calumet, Mich. won this year’s competition, which includes $150,000 in rink upgrades for Calumet Colosseum and $10,000 worth of new equipment from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund.

As winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2019, Calumet received several rink improvements – including an entirely new ice plant (refrigeration system as well as a dehumidifier).

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7PM ET – NBCSN]

What: Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues
Where: Calumet Colosseum
When: Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Red Wings-Blues stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Notes about Calumet:

• Calumet is located at the northern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has a coast line on Lake Superior. Despite being in Michigan, Calumet is roughly 430 miles from Detroit (as the crow flies), which is roughly a 10-hour drive. It is roughly 380 miles from Minneapolis (6h, 30 min) and 225 miles from Green Bay (4 hours) by car.

• Calumet Colosseum was built in 1913 and is the oldest in-use indoor ice arena in the world.

• Construction on the facility began in 1913, with the first official game being contested in early January 1914 between the Calumet Wolverines and the Portage Lake Pioneers, a pair of senior league men’s teams.

• Calumet was formed in 1864 and originally named Red Jacket. The town has a population of
approximately 700 – which happens to be the capacity of Calumet Colosseum – and is located in
“Copper Country”.

• Copper Country is also considered the “birthplace of professional hockey” in North America. The
International Professional Hockey League lasted for three seasons from 1904-07.

• Calumet was once home to the 1943 NFL Championship-winning coach, Heartley ‘Hunk’
Anderson, and John Sherf, who was the first U.S. citizen to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, winning it with the Red Wings in 1937.

The Red Wings and Blues will meet twice this season – In Detroit on Oct. 27 and in St. Louis on Mar. 31.

The Blues open their season at home on Oct. 2 against the Capitals on NBCSN.

Brendan Burke (play-by-play) and Emmy Award-winning ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will call the action live from Calumet Colosseum. In addition, Liam McHugh (host) and Jeremy Roenick(analyst) will also be on-site to provide studio coverage and updates throughout the game.

Hockeyville USA on NBCSN: Red Wings’ youth movement continues

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season begins with Thursday night’s Kraft Hockeyville USA matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues from Calumet, Mich. Coverage begins at 7p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The transition of the Detroit Red Wings from a veteran-laden team to one full of youth is still an on-going process, but there’s clear core for the future that new general manager and franchise legend Steve Yzerman will be able to build around.

Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi are the established leaders of that young core, but there’s more coming. Along with the likes of Michael Rasmussen, Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, and Dennis Cholowski, two players hoping to make the NHL roster this season are a pair of 2018 first-rounders in Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina.

The 19-year-old Veleno put up 42 goals and 104 points in his final year in junior with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. Ideally, he’ll eventually slot in as the second line center to strengthen the team’s spine down the middle. That may not be an option now with Valtteri Filppula and Frans Nielsen on the roster, but that’s the end game here. 

Veleno may start his professional career in the American Hockey League, but whether he’s playing in Grand Rapids or up with the NHL club, he’s been told what he needs to do in order to become a regular.

[RED WINGS-BLUES COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7PM ET ON NBCSN]

“My biggest message to him is become a great two-way center,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill earlier in training camp. “It’s hard to be a pure point guy. You look at his points in junior, they were good, they weren’t astronomical, and so to think that all of a sudden you come here and go astronomical in points would be misleading.

“I told him the quickest way to the NHL is to earn trust. If you earn trust from the coach, you get out there way quicker. So be great defensively, transport the puck up the ice like he does and the produce offense. You have to do both if you want to be in the top two line center role.”

Unlike Veleno, Zadina, 19, has had a taste of the NHL. After spending majority of the season in the AHL where he scored 16 times and recorded 35 points, the Red Wings called him up following the February trade deadline, impressed with his game. He played nine games, averaging 15:23 of ice time, scoring once and handing out two assists.

Motivated to stick with the NHL roster to start this season, Zadina was asked during training camp where his confidence level was at entering the year. “I can’t tell you. I’ll show you on the ice,” the winger replied. Through four games he has three assists. Prior to camp, he posted seven goals and eight points in four games at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

The transition to pro hockey last season helped Zadina. That experience goes a long way and while he could begin the season in the AHL like Veleno, the opportunity to make the NHL roster out of camp is a realistic one.

“The game is going to be a little bit slower for me this year because I know what it’s going to be like,” Zadina said. “It’s about the space (on the ice), but it’s about patience. If you get the puck, you have to skate. Be smart, and a good skater, and the game will be easier.”

The Red Wings love his shot, but would like to see him find more opportunities in front of goal. That will come as he develops physically and adjusts to the NHL game.

“I think to get to the big numbers in goals, you got to get right around that net,” said Blashill. “You got to pick up what you’d term dirty goals. It’s something we’ve talked to him about and it’s something he’s continuing to work on.”

Brendan Burke (play-by-play) and Emmy Award-winning ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will call the action live from Calumet Colosseum. In addition, Liam McHugh (host) and Jeremy Roenick(analyst) will also be on-site to provide studio coverage and updates throughout the game.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Here are the two finalists for Kraft Hockeyville

We now have our two finalists for Kraft Hockeyville.

The video above features more information on the two communities and rinks that have made it out of the East and West regions this year.

The two rinks that have made it out of their respective regions are:

East

The Rostraver Ice Garden: Belle Vernon, PA

An old-time hockey barn that could definitely use some upgrades after it was pretty much rebuilt following a roof collapse in 2010. It is currently the home to several youth and high school hockey programs about 35 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

West

Bloomington Ice Garden: Bloomington, MN

Located just south of the twin cities, the Bloomington Ice Garden opened in 1970 and has been home to several powerhouse high school hockey teams over the years. It was also used as a practice rink for the 1980 Miracle On Ice team.

To find out more, including details regarding prizes and individual vignettes for each location, visit krafthockeyville.com.

Johnstown, Pa., to host inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA

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The votes are in. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, will host the inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA event, which will feature an exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning on Sept. 29.

The event will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The Cambria County War Memorial Arena will also receive $150,000 in arena upgrades, including to its ice-making equipment and scoreboard.

“The response we’ve seen from these communities and their rallying support for each other has been truly inspiring,” said Jane Hilk, chief marketing officer and president, Kraft Beverages and Snack Nuts Division, in a statement.

“Since the voting period began, we’ve received an astounding 20.4 million votes from passionate hockey fans across the country, and are so proud to award the inaugural ‘Kraft Hockeyville™ USA‘ title to such a well-deserving community.”

Voting now underway for Kraft Hockeyville winner

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A reminder it’s time to cast your ballots for the final time to see who’ll emerge as this year’s Kraft Hockeyville winner.

Voting opened Monday and is still underway at krafthockeyville.com, featuring the two finalists rinks —  the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and the Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois.

War Memorial is perhaps best known as the home of the Johnstown Jets, the former minor-league team that inspired the iconic hockey movie “Slap Shot.” Over 70 players that’ve called War Memorial home have gone on to play in the NHL.

The Decatur Civic Center hosts both the “Tournament of Friends” — an annual event now in its 25th year — and the Decatur Flames youth hockey team; this year, the pee wee Flames won the Illinois state championship.

For more on the two finalist rinks and all the communities featured in this year’s event, click on krafthockeyville.com. The winner will be announced on Saturday, May 2.