Two down, 23 to go.
The wheels are turning in the Port Coquitlam Trailblazers' mission to form its first-ever roster as the city's new junior 'B' hockey team recently unveiled its first signees following a prospects camp, April 21 to 23.
Defenceman Milin Aujla and forward Blake Van Straten officially committed to the Trailblazers on Tuesday (April 25) and Wednesday (April 26) respectively.
They are the first to join, what will ultimately be, a 25-player line-up formed by general manager Ryan Ross and head coach Greg Ross by opening face-off for the 2023-24 season in the fall.
Aujla made history as the inaugural commit for PoCo's return to the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) after nearly two decades.
The Burnaby blue-liner spent the last year in Massachusetts with Northfield Mount Hermon in the U.S. High School Prep hockey league (USHS).
The 19-year-old compiled 10 assists and 12 points in 28 games with the maroon and blue.
Prior to moving to the northeast United States, Aujla played 127 games over five years for St. George's (Vancouver) in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL).
The Trailblazers believe Aujla's wealth of experience in the Lower Mainland and south of the border can kickstart a winning culture.
"Milin brings great work ethic and character off the the ice to our first year team," the team said in a social media post. "We look forward to seeing Milin Aujla in purple and gold next season!"
Meanwhile, there will be at least one Tri-Cities born-and-raised player on the Trailblazers.
Van Straten is from Coquitlam and has recently played for the Tri-Cities-based Vancouver North East Chiefs of the BC Elite Hockey League (BCEHL).
With the under-18 team, the forward recorded eight points in 35 regular-season games and added two more in five playoff games.
He also has two CSSHL seasons with Delta under his belt, as well as five games as a call-up for the Port Moody Panthers.
PoCo coaches said Van Straten's PJHL stint can add "great value" on the ice.
"Blake Van Straten is a 2005-born forward with great on ice awareness and speed. Off the ice, Blake is a fantastic teammate who demonstrates leadership and strong work ethic."
The Trailblazers became the PJHL's 14th franchise on Jan. 26 during an announcement at Jon Baillie Arena inside the Port Coquitlam Community Centre, where the team will play its home games.
The club was awarded to Vancouver lawyer Rob Toor, who's also a coach in the PoCo Pirates minor hockey association.
The team name was unveiled Feb. 22 with the logo, colours and jerseys released the next day, paying tribute to PoCo's hockey roots and "the untamed path" and bridge the organization hopes to build with the community.
A 2023-24 PJHL schedule has yet to be released, but the first game is likely to take place in September.