The Port Moody Panthers have looked to Burnaby to bolster its next core of young hockey talent.
Local athletes Lucas Crescenzo and Nicolas Lee both recently signed with the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) franchise for the 2023-24 season.
And the 16-year-olds may also get a taste of potentially faster and more competitive hockey.
The PJHL are now under junior 'A' status with BC Hockey after the province's governing body for the sport and its stakeholders unanimously approved the promotion in July.
Crescenzo and Lee said they're looking forward to experiencing a different kind of intensity on the ice.
"The chance to play at a higher level of competition is a great opportunity," said Crescenzo.
"My goals are to challenge myself and contribute positively to the team's success."
"I am very excited to play with the Panthers this year because of the amazing coaching staff that can help me get to the next level," added Lee.
"Some goals I've set for this upcoming season are playing my role as an energy guy. I'm not afraid of going into the corners to get the puck and bringing a physical presence."
Crescenzo, a defenceman, spent last season with the under-18 A1 Bulldogs of the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association.
He also has experience in B.C.'s top league for minor hockey, scoring one goal in the one game he played in the 2021-22 season as a call-up with the Vancouver North East Chiefs' under-17 AAA squad.
"I want to continue improving and learning defensive positioning," he explained, "using my size and agility to effectively shut down forwards and protect our zone."
Lee, a forward, played 33 games last year with the Langley Hockey Academy under-18 team in the Junior Prospects Hockey League.
He tallied eight points, including three goals, as one of the youngest players in the division.
"My playing style is as an energy guy who likes to be physical as well as a goal scorer," Lee said.
"I can create space for myself as well as my teammates."
In the 2021-22 campaign, Lee recorded five goals and 12 points with Burnaby Winter Club's under-16 prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL)
The 2023-24 PJHL season gets underway on Sept. 6.