The Grandview Steelers are hoping for a longer season this year.
The Burnaby-based, now junior 'A' tier 2 hockey club is gearing up for its first game of the 2023-24 campaign this weekend and it's a rematch the players, both veteran and rookie, have had circled on the calendar for some time.
The black and yellow will take on the reigning Pacific Junior Hockey League-champion Delta Ice Hawks on Sunday, Sept. 10, whom they fell to in five games in the second round of the playoffs.
But the energy in the arena may permeate often into the stands as the Steelers were promoted to the junior 'A' tag this summer by BC Hockey, the provincal governing body for the sport.
This after the BC Hockey League's (BCHL) departure from Hockey Canada in pursuit of its own player development.
The reclassification applies to every team in the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL), including Grandview, as well as the Vancouver Island (VIJHL) and Kootenay International leagues (KIJHL).
Players that choose to represent the Steelers will now earn an even greater opportunity to grow and potentially reach higher levels of hockey, including the Western Hockey League (WHL), Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) and beyond.
Grandview's roster also appears to be set with the team listing 19 players. Among the slate are 10 returning veterans, including both goaltenders, and nine rookies.
The homegrown Burnaby players include Arjan Grewal, Steven Konechny, Colby Longeau, Enver Chan and Ronin Geraghty.
Last year, the Steelers finished with a record of 28-17-1-2, claiming the fourth and final playoff spot out of the Tom Shaw Conference.
That was also their winningest season since notching 32 victories in the 2009-10 campaign.
They took down the North Vancouver Wolfpack in the first round, including a double-overtime Game 3 thriller that favoured the Steelers 4-3 in their home barn.
Graduating defenceman Dylan Narduzzi led the way with 62 points in 47 regular-season games last year, including a whopping 61 assists — the second highest in the PJHL.
Grandview played six exhibition games prior to the new PJHL season puck-drop this weekend, compiling a 3-3 record with two wins at home.
The Steelers will be tested right out of the gate, taking on divisional-rival Delta on Sunday in their season opener.
Game time is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Burnaby Winter Club (4990 Canada Way).
Can't make the games?
There's also a new streaming service for fans to watch the Steelers on their smartphones, TVs and other devices.
The PJHL recently reached an agreement with Texas-based FloSports, meaning all Grandview home and away games will be available live and on-demand through the company's special hockey portal.
Previously, games were available through HockeyTV and subscribers to that service will be able to migrate their accounts to the new platform.
FloSports acquired HockeyTV's parent company, HockeyTech, in 2021.
To learn more about FloSports, you can visit the company's website.
- with a file from Mario Bartel, Tri-City News