Decatur: Hockeyville USA

Decatur: Hockeyville USA

Danville has had a passion for junior hockey throughout the years, but it appears Decatur's bond is just as strong.

The Decatur Civic Center needs your help Tuesday and Wednesday. The center, which needs upgrades, has advanced to the West finals of the Kraft Hockeyville USA contest. Out of more than 1,300 original entries, Decatur is in the final four, and it is squaring off against Albertville, Minn., in the West finals. The Decatur rink is guaranteed $40,000 in upgrades, but the grand prize is $150,000 in upgrades and a chance to host an NHL preseason exhibition game. Do you think anyone would show up if the Blues and Blackhawks played there?

At the contest's Facebook page, some geographically challenged people think Decatur is a Chicago suburb. East Central Illinois residents know that is not the case. Though Albertville seems like a nice place, it surely can't match Decatur's love of the sport.

Kristi N. penned the original entry for Decatur. "My husband and I grew up playing all kinds of sports and I can say without a doubt that none of those compare to the level of passion, love, camaraderie that we feel in our hockey community - it's truly unmatched," she wrote on the contest website.

"We have tremendous people in our community doing all they can to support and provide a wonderful hockey experience. Each year we host a tournament in memory of a former player. We're hosting our 25th anniversary this year, it's a great event and we attract teams from across Illinois and St. Louis. We have teams that request to come back year after year. And we host an Operation USA weekend in honor of our military - and a picture in the USA Hockey magazine to boot. And this year for the first time in the history of Decatur hockey, we welcomed our first junior hockey team, the Decatur Blaze. They're only in the first year here and already attracting 350+ crowds -- college scouts tell us they're some of the largest crowds they've seen at junior hockey games. Quite frankly the rink is the hot place to be on a cold winter evening. The passion for hockey is strong and continues to grow. That said, our rink needs to grow as well and unfortunately to date it just hasn’t kept pace."

If Decatur wins its West finals matchup, it would face either Sault Sainte Marie, Mich., or Johnstown, Pa., for the title. This round's winners will be announced Saturday.

Here is how you can vote for Decatur.

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