The night will start with a reminder of the hard work and success from the previous year, as former players Brandon Boutilier and Cal Gloade join the team with the Kent Cup.
The ceremony will be a dose of nostalgia and a boost in the right direction after a slow start to the season, said team captain Brandon Pye.
“It will be a good reminder for us of the work we need to put in to be the team we can be,” Pye said on Friday night. “We still have a lot of good players here and we can be better than we’ve been.”
After redeeming a season-opening loss to Woodstock with an emphatic win over St. Stephen last weekend, the Bearcats again were dealt a 5-2 loss to Dieppe on Thursday night.
The team will look to turn things around when it makes its home debut at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre Saturday against the St. Stephen County Aces. It will be the 18th opener in franchise history, the second at the new facility, and the 13th for head coach and general manager Shawn Evans.
Being one of the longest tenured coaches in Canadian junior hockey, Evans has no plans to go anywhere any time soon.
“After those losses in Woodstock and Dieppe, I realized how much I still want to be here,” Evans said. “It still bothers me, so I know I still love it.”
One of the big reasons his passion for the team burns on is seeing the evolution of his players.
“It’s fun to watch guys like Colby Lanceleve and Dan Perigo progress as players and people over the years,” he said. “Then you get new guys like Noah Archibald come in and the cycle continues again.”
Archibald, a 16-year-old forward, admits he was a little surprised to crack the lineup right away, and more surprised when he scored in his first career game.
“I really didn’t think it would happen this fast,” he said. “But it was a great feeling. Nice to get the first one out of the way.”
Growing up in Truro, Archibald watched Bearcats games and dreamed of one day lacing up the skates for the red and black. With his family in the stands, it all becomes a reality Saturday night.
“It’s going to be really special.”
With an emerging core of new faces on the club, the pre-game ceremony is sure to stir up some feelings for the new Bearcats, 16-year-olds and 20-year-olds alike.
“Those guys worked so hard to get that trophy,” Archibald said. “That’s what I want too.”
The home opener will also mark the first home game for Pye without longtime friend and fellow Newfoundlander Kyle Tibbo, who made the jump to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats this season.
“It’s definitely different without Kyle. We played together for so long at home and here, and we miss him a lot,” Pye said. “But at the same time, we’ve picked up a lot of great new players who help fill that void.”
Things will get underway at the RECC at 7 p.m., with the Aces looking to avenge last weekend’s 9-1 shellacking. The Bearcats are eager for a big crowd to help ring in the new season.
“Hopefully the place will be packed and cheering for us all night,” Pye said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”