Hockey season will start with a bang on Tuesday, Aug. 27, when the Chilliwack Chiefs meet the Coquitlam Express in the Hope Arena for a preseason exhibition match.
It’s not just a game, though. Organizers have grabbed hold of the opportunity and have turned it into a community celebration. The puck drop is at 7 p.m., but the evening kicks off at 5 p.m. with a tailgate party in the rec centre parking lot. There will be face painting, street hockey, sidewalk chalk and a musical performance by Crossfire.
Hope Minor Hockey will be running a hot dog and hamburger barbecue — and they’ll be the recipients of $2 for each $7 game ticket sold.
Lloyd Forman, FVRD Area A director and chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District Recreation, Culture and Airpark Services Commission, was enthused by the plans for the big day.
“This kind of event is the epitome of what the town should be doing,” he said. “What we can do is build a sense of community and that it’s a great place to live. This really builds community and attracts businesses that value that local spirit.”
Forman, who lives in Boston Bar, learned to play hockey when he was growing up in Saskatchewan.
“I loved it! I played four hours a day until I got married,” he recalled. “I wasn’t very big but I was a good skater.
“Hockey is great for kids,” added Forman. “You learn to give and take.
“From the Chiefs point of view, I think it’s good marketing… spreading their fan base,” said Forman. I went to their game last year and it was a full house. These juniors play with so much passion.”
Barry Douglas, the Chiefs’ director of marketing and sales, said there would be a number of things to watch for in the game.
“Barry Wolfe, the former assistant coach when we were in Langley, is now the head coach of the Express,” said Douglas.
“There are also three former Chiefs playing for Coquitlam,” he added. “There was a deadline deal last season, where we traded Shay Laurent, Garrett Forster and Ben Israel for Philip Zielonka — who ended up being one of our top scorers in the playoffs.”
Zielonka is playing for Harvard this year, so you won’t see him in at this game.
“The Chiefs have a long history with the community of Hope,” said Douglas. “We’ve had players like Brad Loring, Aaron Hoggan and Wyatt Tunnicliffe — and our announcers Bryce Stephenson and Dave Mawhinney have ties with Hope.”
Mawhinney will be announcing at the Hope event.
“We’re having home-and-away games with the Surrey Eagles, August 23 and 24… on the 24th in Chilliwack,” said Douglas. “The game in Hope is the second-last in the preseason, so we should have our numbers cut down. The players will really be fighting to get the final spots on the roster.”
Tickets are on sale now at the Hope rec centre – $7 each for all ages.