Their home rink is gone, a victim of the wrecking ball.
But, as the Cariboo Cougars prepare for a new season in the B.C. Hockey Major Midget League, home-ice advantage may be a bigger factor than ever before.
With Kin 1 torn down and in the process of being rebuilt for the 2015 Canada Winter Games and beyond, the Cougars will play the majority of their home games at CN Centre, which has a much more spacious sheet of ice than did the Kin. And, with the Cats being exceptionally fleet of foot, they'll have the chance to do some serious wheeling in all that open space.
"[Playing at CN Centre] is going to be a bit of an adjustment but I think the bigger ice surface will give us room to use our speed as a team," said Cougars captain Ryan Forbes.
"We've got a lot of offence," he added. "We have a lot of new faces but I think it will be good in the end."
The Cats, a 15- to 17-year-old regional rep squad, will also have home games in McBride (Nov. 10-11 against the Thompson Blazers) and will skate once at the Coliseum (Dec. 16 against the Vancouver Northwest Giants).
The Cougars will get things started today at CN Centre with a 4:15 p.m. game against the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. The Cats and T-birds will also meet Sunday at 10 a.m. Admission to both contests is free.
The Cougars will play a 40-game regular season and have already set their sights on a first-place finish in the 11-team league. That goes for the regular season and playoffs. For the past three seasons, they have finished second in both categories to the Burnaby-based Giants.
"Right off the bat, we set our goal to win the league," said Forbes, a 17-year-old forward from Kitimat. "Every year, Cariboo puts together a really strong team and I think we have the ingredients this year to really make a push for that championship."
The Cougars, who went 4-1 in the pre-season, have 14 Prince George players in uniform. The team is rounded out by talent from Whitehorse, Fort St. John, Kitimat, Terrace and Williams Lake.
Prince George's Nathan Warren will start in goal for the Cougars today.
Today's game and Sunday's rematch can be viewed online at cariboocougars.ca.