COQUITLAM - Discovering early season gold was a major part of last year's boom.
The Coquitlam Express hope they've found another elite piece with the acquisition of defenceman Brett Seldon from their cross-river rival Surrey Eagles this week.
Last season, head coach and general manager Jon Calvano added winger Brady Shaw and goaltender Cole Huggins after both were released by their original BC Hockey League clubs.
Shaw went on to score 33 goals and Huggins posted a 21-6-2 record with a 2.99 goals against average.
This time, the Express traded future considerations for the six-foot-two, 210-pound Seldon on Monday, two days after losing stalwart defender Jason Bird to a shoulder injury on the final shift of the season opener.
Usually, strapping defencemen with a rugged edge are harder to find than the remains of Richard III. But a numbers-crunch in Surrey, plus a sudden opening on the Express blueline, brought the two clubs together.
"He's a big, strong kid who plays a physical kind of game," remarked Express coach and general manager Jon Calvano. "It's an element that we felt we needed, but is hard to find."
Seldon has two years of Junior A hockey experience with Ontario's North York Rangers, where last season he was an assistant captain. The Eagles had just acquired the blueliner in August, shipping winger Sean McGovern east for his rights.
Seldon, 18, tallied a goal and 10 assists over 43 games last year. More notable was the 79 penalty minutes, which would have led the Express last season.
"The main reason why we went after him was Bird's injury," noted Calvano. "But he plays the style of defence - a physical, strength game - that we thought we could use. He's the type of player you need to complement the offensive-skilled players, who is capable with the puck but will stick up for his teammates."
To make room for Seldon, Coquitlam shipped Josh Finkelstein to Wellington of the Ontario Junior A circuit.
Finkelstein, 19, contributed two goals and seven assists over 56 games last year.
Calvano said top centre Alexander Kerfoot appears ready to go for Friday's home opener (7 p.m. at the Poirier Sports Centre) against the Langley Rivermen.
The conference rival will provide a great test for the 2-0 Express, noted the coach, as they've recruited a larger, more offensively-talented roster after last year's seventh-place finish.
"Langley will be a tough test for us, as they've put together a physical club who we have to compete with," Calvano said. "The kids are excited to get that first game on their own ice and play before the home fans. Although we've played two games, this is like the season opener. You want to do well and see how many fans turn out."
The team will host a tailgate barbecue prior to tonight's game, beginning at 5:45 p.m. Tickets for the game are available at the Poirier Sports Centre.