The Coquitlam Express isn’t just hoping to clean up on the ice this season.
Its players are going to help clean up their community.
Monday, the BC Hockey League team announced its new Working Together initiative that will dispatch players to help with clean-up projects in local parks and beaches in the Tri-Cities, as well as in Burnaby and New Westminster.
It’s all part of the team’s effort to give back for the support it’s received from fans, as well as local businesses, said Express general manager Tali Campbell in a press release.
“This initiative is going to get our players into the community helping to clean up parks, beaches and other community areas so we can continue to take pride in where we play.”
The program kicks off in October and will continue through the hockey season.
Campbell said the team will work with local businesses that are supplying materials to help with the clean-ups.
After a season of navigating public health restrictions that prevented fans from attending games and limited players to a foreshortened exhibition season —followed several months later by a 20-game campaign, where teams played regional rivals in five pods around the province — the Express has bolstered its community outreach as it begins celebrating its 20th anniversary season.
Last spring the team hosted a special camp for female hockey players and, in July, Campbell extended his duties to include managing a regional development program for female hockey players.
And in August, the team hosted its inaugural charity golf tournament that raised nearly $12,000 for Canuck Place.
As well, Express players are being paired with local minor hockey teams to help out with coaching, and the team will play two regular season games at the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre in February.
The Express is also allowing all kids 18 years old and under to attend games for free this season through a partnership with a local insurance company: Sussex Insurance.
Campbell joined the team at the beginning of the 2020-2021 season with a history of building community, during previous stints with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers and as a community relations manager with the Victoria Grizzlies and business manager for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
At 26, he’s one of the youngest executives in junior hockey, and the Nanaimo native said he’s never forgotten the impact meeting players for his hometown team when he was younger had on his own life and career aspirations.
“Every decision I make is from the heart and that’s where it comes from,” he said.
The Express opens its regular season Oct. 8, with its first home game scheduled for Oct. 15 against the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Vaccine passports are required for admission and masks must be worn. Ticketed seating will be limited to half the 2,200 capacity at Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.