It was a hockey homecoming nearly 30 years in the making.
The historic event happened when the Penticton Silver Bullets senior AA men’s hockey team stepped on the ice at Memorial Arena this season after a lengthy absence.
Resurrecting the squad and especially playing at the iconic city venue, started out as an idea Matt Fraser and some friends had after a round of golf.
“Basically, it was just a little nostalgia and I think a lot of us playing in the men’s leagues wanted to play the highest level hockey that we could play,” said Fraser, the team captain and who previously helped coach in the Penticton Vees organization.
“Slowly everything just came together and before you know it we had a schedule, we had jerseys and we had a roster and we were rockin’ and rollin’.
“I just thought bringing the senior team back, the time was right, we had a great group of guys and when it came down to the name I thought there’s nothing better than the old program.”
They are one of three squads in the Independent Division with the Rossland Warriors and rival Powell River Regals.
The original Silver Bullets began in the late ’80s and peaked in 1992 at Memorial Arena when they beat the Regals in the Senior AA Coy Cup championship.
The division winner this season will advance to the Coy Cup next spring. Penticton has already staked a claim for the chance to advance, currently sporting a record of seven wins and just one loss this season.
“There’s just so much hockey history in Penticton and I actually know a lot of the guys that played on that team (Bullets) back in the day and they were pretty keen on bringing it back,” said Fraser.
And there was no question about where home games would be played.
“For me, going back to Memorial Arena was a big part of it,” he said. “Memorial has one of the best atmospheres in the entire game of hockey.
“It’s something that’s special. Every time you get a crowd in there, there’s a nice little buzz to it. There’s just no better place to watch a hockey game.”
And it’s real hockey, with experienced players all coming from competitive backgrounds, including the pros. Players range in age from 21 to 41.
While the team members come from Kelowna to Osoyoos, the vast majority are Penticton residents.
“That definitely adds a local touch and these guys definitely have the skills,” said Fraser. “We don’t have the same dangles and shots like we used to when we were younger, but we definitely still have some game left in us.
“We all still love to compete and we all love to win.”
The Silver Bullets are off until next month when they host a pair of games on Jan. 21 and 22 at Memorial Arena against Rossland at 7 and 3:30 p.m., respectively.