Kraft Hockeyville USA, a program of Pittsburgh- and Chicago-based Kraft Heinz, returns for its fourth year and nominations are officially open to find America’s most spirited and enthusiastic hockey communities. Towns nationwide can compete for the coveted title of “Kraft Hockeyville USA 2018,” which includes the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game and $150,000 in rink upgrades.

“The overwhelming response we’ve seen from hockey communities over the years has been an inspiration,” said Michelle St. Jacques, head of brand marketing and research and development for Kraft Heinz, in a statement. “Our vision at Kraft Heinz is ‘To Be the Best Food Company, Growing a Better World,’ and the passionate hockey towns who rally around Kraft Hockeyville truly bring it to life, both on and off the rink.”

During the program, Kraft Heinz will feature its diverse portfolio of products to unite hockey fans in their celebrations of the sport and their communities, including Planters, Kraft Natural Cheese, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Longtime program ambassador Jeremy Roenick, NHL veteran and current NHL analyst for NBC Sports, is back for Kraft Hockeyville USA 2018.

“This is one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in sports — it’s not just about one person, or one story. It’s about communities pitching in to nominate their rinks and show passion around hockey and youth programs,” Roenick said. “This program always reminds me of the support that my local ice rink provided me when I was a young hockey player.”

Kraft Hockeyville USA is proud to partner with the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA), the NHL and NBC Sports Group to support the search for hockey communities in the United States with the most inspirational stories and strongest voter participation. The 2018 program was announced live during Tuesday’s NBC broadcast of the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor game featuring the Buffalo Sabres against the New York Rangers at Citi Field in New York City.

Unlike previous years, the nomination application is just the first step for communities across the country to share unique stories about their local rink, teams, hockey spirit and passion. Throughout the submission process, hockey communities will be asked to bring their stories to life online to earn Rally Points by adding notes, uploading photos and videos, tweeting from the community page and interacting with the community on, where complete contest rules and how to enter are available, the company says. Finalists will be selected based on the best stories and their community’s total Rally Points through three periods, like a hockey game. The contest features the following guidelines:

  • Period 1 (Jan. 1-March 10): Local communities submit a story about why they deserve to win Kraft Hockeyville USA on Once posted, users should activate their community online to rally behind the local rink by boosting their digital Rally Points.
  • Period 2 (March 31-April 12): After the judges read through each rink’s stories and calculate the total Rally Points of each submission, the Top 4 finalists will be announced March 31. The four finalists will then have two weeks to rally their communities and hockey fans nationwide in preparation for the live voting event.
  • Period 3 (April 13-14): The four finalist communities will compete and rally to receive as many votes as possible. The winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2018 will be announced April 14 during an intermission of NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Playoff coverage and will be awarded the grand prize of an opportunity to host an NHL preseason game and $150,000 in rink upgrades from Kraft Heinz. First prize (runner-up) will receive $30,000 toward rink upgrades, and the second place rinks will each receive $10,000.

Since launching in Canada in 2006, Kraft Hockeyville has positively impacted more than 80 communities with more than $4 million in rink upgrades across Canada and the United States, the company says.