Surrey Knights, Delta Ice Hawks, White Rock Whalers and the 10 other Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) teams will have a new foe to contend with next season after league officials approved a franchise in Port Coquitlam.
No team name is yet chosen, but PoCo will begin play the 2023-24 season at the 780-seat Jon Baillie Arena at the newly renovated Port Coquitlam Community Centre, the league announced Jan. 26.
The ownership group is led by local resident Rob Toor, who in 2022 sought to bring back Junior ‘B’ hockey to the city, where the Buckeroos played from 1990 to 2006 before moving to Port Moody to become the Panthers.
Based on the group’s planning and vision, the PJHL’s board of governors “felt assured the new franchise will be a benefit to the league,” according to a news release posted on the league website.
“We are proud to welcome a new franchise in Port Coquitlam to our league,” said PJHL commissioner Trevor Alto. “Rob and his partners have shown us they are prepared to do what it takes to run a successful team so it made sense to offer junior hockey to players and fans in that community.”
Port Coquitlam will join the Tom Shaw Conference to rival Delta Ice Hawks, Richmond Sockeyes, White Rock Whalers, Grandview Steelers, North Vancouver Wolf Pack and Port Moody Panthers.
The league’s Harold Brittain Conference includes Langley Trappers, Ridge Meadows Flames, Mission City Outlaws, Chilliwack Jets, Surrey Knights, Aldergrove Kodiaks and Abbotsford Pilots.
The new PoCo franchise will get community participation and input to come up with a team name and logo, to be unveiled later this year.
The current PJHL regular season will end with four games Sunday, Feb. 12, followed by playoffs. The top three teams from each conference make the playoffs. Teams in fourth and fifth positions will battle in a best-of-three “Survivor Series” for that fourth seed in each conference. All other playoff series are best-of-seven format.