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Three WHL teams heading to Port Coquitlam for preseason play

Jon Baillie Arena in the Port Coquitlam Community Centre will host two matches featuring the Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars.

Hockey fans of young and old in the Tri-Cities will get to watch some of the province's best players — and potential NHL prospects — in the fall.

In further christening the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC), three Western Hockey League (WHL) clubs are set to play two games in September as part of preseason action ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

This includes the Vancouver Giants, who call the Langley Events Centre home more than 20 km southeast from the PCCC (2150 Wilson Ave.).

They'll take face-off against the Prince George Cougars on Sept. 9 in a Friday night clash at Jon Baillie Arena.

The second game, on Sept. 10, will also feature the Cougars, but they'll match up with the Victoria Royals to close out the weekend.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West believes the WHL's exhibition games can bolster the community's landscape for sports.

"Events like this puts PoCo on the map by providing the opportunity to showcase our culture, city, and first-class sporting facility and friendly hospitality to athletes, coaches, officials, guests and spectators," he says in a news release today (June 17).

"The City will provide an unforgettable experience and setting the stage for an event of this magnitude, will showcase what our community has to offer."

The games will nearly mark the one-year anniversary of the PCCC's official opening after the $132-million project was completed in fall last year.

Upgrades were implemented to create three arenas at the facility, including a spectator rink that can house nearly 850 people.

Several special events have taken place since in celebration of the new community centre, including the return of the PoCo Saints lacrosse club in May.

As well, in Feburary, the Coquitlam Express played a regular-season game at the PCCC against Surrey, winning 6-4 in front of a sold-out crowd.

"We couldn’t be more excited for these games to be held at PCCC," adds Coun Steve Darling, Port Coquitlam city council’s designate for recreation.

"The Jon Baillie Arena is a great venue to come together and witness great hockey, a great Canadian game."

Last season, the Giants finished fourth in the B.C. Division with a record of 24-39-5 — just enough to make the playoffs.

But Vancouver shocked the hockey world in eliminating the number one-seeded Everett Silvertips in the best-of-seven first round, 4-2.

They lost in the second round series, also 4-2, to the Kamloops Blazers.

The club also made history last month after selecting Chloe Primerano in the 13th round of the 2022 WHL Draft.

The 15-year-old North Vancouver defender became the first female skater to ever be picked in a draft in any division of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

Prince George finished third in the B.C. Division last season (24-39-4-1) before they were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by Portland, while Victoria claimed fifth in the same group (23-39-5-1).

Both WHL preseason contests have 7 p.m. puck drops on Sept. 9 and 10.

For more information, you're encouraged to visit the league's website.