The Delta Ice Hawks are coming to North Delta next week as the team begins its quest to repeat as PJHL champions.
The Hawks play their first game of the 2023-24 regular season on the road against the Grandview Steelers at Burnaby Winter Club on Sunday (Sept. 10), followed by their home-opener against the Port Moody Panthers at Ladner Leisure Centre on Tuesday (Sept. 12). Both games start at 7:35 p.m.
Then, on Thursday (Sept. 14), the team plays their lone regular-season game at Sungod Arena, taking on the visiting North Vancouver Wolf Pack — puck drops at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for Ice Hawks home games are available at the door and cost $12 for adults (19-64), $8 for seniors, and $5 for kids ages 5-18. Children under 5 get in free.
The Hawks finished the pre-season with a 3-1 record, beating the Chilliwack Jets 5-2 at home in Ladner Aug. 23, the visiting Abbotsford Pilots 7-1 on Aug 27, and scoring a 9-1 road win against the Langley Trappers on Sept. 3.
The team’s only loss was a 3-4 contest at Sungod on Labour Day against the White Rock Whalers.
Thirteen players from last year’s championship-winning team are back this season: defencemen Yuji Akimoto, Ryan Bal, Tye Hemenway and Caelan Mander; forwards Danylo Bereza, Colin Jang, Austin Kofler, Aiden McGregor-Bennett, Carson Merriman, Conner Merriman and Luke Mongrain; and goalies Zach Shaughnessy and Jacob Zillich.
Joining them are six new signees: blueliners Brandon Petrie, Dylan Stafford and Neland Voshell; and forwards Beckett Cross, Nicholas Kolb and Declan Warburton.
Cross was an affiliate player (AP) for Delta last season and scored in all three games he played in.
“Beckett’s game has grown significantly over the past season and we have used one of our 16year-old spots to sign him as a full time player this year,” Ice Hawks head coach and general manager Steve Robinson said in a press release. “He is an extremely hard worker with a great attitude and we’re confident he will make a significant impact on our team.”
Kolb played for Greater Vancouver Canadians last season, serving as captain of the club’s U17 squad and the team’s leading scorer.
“Nicholas is a complete player who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He has size, athleticism and a great work ethic. We are excited to work with and assist in his continued development. Nick is someone we expect big things from the in the year ahead,” Robinson said.
Petrie, who was also an AP for Delta last year, had a great season with GVC’s U18 team, earning best defenceman honours and being selected as s BCEHL first-team all star.
“Brandon is an extremely polished player who makes others around him better. He’s a smart and well-rounded player,” Robinson said. “Brandon was an AP last year and appeared in key playoff games for [Delta], and we are super excited to have him on board as a full time player.”
Robinson describes Stafford — a former teammate of fellow 16-year-old Hawks signee Cross — as a good skater an “up-and-coming player with skills [and] smarts.”
“We didn’t expect him to be ready this year, but the more we watched him and spoke to him, it became clear he was confident and ready to play and make that leap into juniorr hockey,” Robinson said.
Voshell played last season as a member of Delta Hockey Academy’s U17 team following three years at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
“Skating with our group this spring and attending our ID camp, Neland showed a really polished and solid game with lots of upside to build upon. We’re confident he will be a strong addition to the team and we’re happy to assist in his continuing development,” Robinson said.
Warburton is another Hawks affiliate player who spent last season as s member of GVC’s U18 team.
“Declan endured some injuries and setbacks over the past two seasons but looks poised to have a breakout year and we’re super excited to have him choose Delta,” Robinson said. “He finished the season and playoffs playing key games for us as an AP and was a difference maker.
“Seeing his regained confidence and the momentum he has carried through camps in the spring, I expect him to have a big year and remind people why he was such a high profile prospect in the past.”