The defence of the Mission City Outlaws first-ever Pacific Junior Hockey League championship is on.
The Outlaws opened the regular season with a 7-4 win on Thursday in Surrey against the Knights.
The local squad will now raise the championship banner they earned last season at their home opener on Saturday against the Aldergrove Kodiaks.
Mission should have a completely different look to the team, with a number of key players from last year’s championship squad either finishing their junior careers or moving on to other teams.
Top scorers David McGowan and Bryce Pisiak completed their junior eligibility last year, while starting goalie Jeffrey Veitch has moved on to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Forward Kolby Steen was dealt to the Abbotsford Pilots in the offseason. Star defender Brock Padgham is also moving on, as he is set to suit up for Southern Maine in NCAA Division 3
Nick Thompson and Brody Dyck, who also both finished up their junior careers, are sticking with the team as assistant coaches.
Outlaws head coach Brad Veitch said it’s great to have the pair of players join his staff for this season.
“It’s a natural conduit having guys transition to coaching when they are done playing,” he told the Outlaws website. “They’re able to stay in the game, continue to build relationships with their (former) teammates and explain to the new guys why the coach might be a little hard on them. They understand because they’ve been there, not that long ago. It’s always good for the guys to have a ‘shoulder to cry on’ and someone to trust during a long season, and guys like Brody and Nic can be those guys.”
Key returning players for the Outlaws include: forwards Ryan Sharma, Baylee Wright, Kyle Lennea and Justin Bowerman, along with defender Tyler Wickman.
Mission added a number of veterans for this season, including former WHLer Michal Holub, Joshua Murphy – who played on the North Vancouver Wolf Pack last season and former Port Moody Panther Trevor Sundher.
The Outlaws regular game night will be Saturday, with most games occurring at 6:45 p.m. at the Mission Leisure Centre. For more on the team, visit missioncityoutlaws.com.