Burgundy is back.
The Kildonan-East Collegiate Reivers boys’ hockey team will bust out its wine-tinted threads again as it is rejoining the Winnipeg High School Hockey League after taking the 2012-13 season off.
The decision to not ice a team was made before last school year, and before vice-principal Darlene Martineau officially started in the job. She was encouraged on multiple occasions to try to revive the program.
"I had a couple groups of boys approach me throughout the year and really wanting to bring hockey back to KE," Martineau said. "I believe as a school leader that a strong athletic program is really important to a school — to school-building and its culture."
Martineau said there was no team last year just because the logistics weren’t quite right.
"You have to have students. You have to have coaches. A lot of things have to fall into place," Martineau said.
Several of the returning players didn’t give up the sport in the year off, opting to play on community club or recreational teams. They’re up to the challenge of getting ready for the tough level of competition.
"It’s been going really well. We’ve been working really hard as a team," Grade 12 forward Braden Turman said.
"There’s been plenty of dryland training to get back into shape," added defenceman Keenan Young, also in Grade 12.
Young added it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back into the swing of things, as several of the players grew up playing together.
"We had great chemistry. The one thing I would say, though, is we didn’t have a lot of Grade 12s, a lot of older guys. We had a younger team back then, and now, we have an older team," Young said.
Rookie head coach Luke Klassen is glad to be able to coach this veteran-laden roster with nine Grade 12s on the team. He said the dedication of those players is rubbing off on the younger ones to help simplify his job.
"They’re all on time. They all show up," Klassen said. "(I appreciate) that veteran leadership that they’ve shown, that maturity that some of those younger guys don’t necessarily have."
Klassen said even though several players are in their last season, the program is sustainable, with plenty of interest among younger students.
The Reivers, who were sixth in the eight-team Coca Cola Division with a 7-12-3 record in 2011-12, were slated to get their first competitive action at the Springfield Tournament in Oakbank over Thanksgiving weekend. They will kick off regular season play against Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau on Oct. 18 at 4:15 p.m. at Roland Michener Arena.
Klassen has a pretty clear vision of how he expects his squad to perform as it heads out in the hopes of locking up a title for those who won’t get another crack at it.
"We have some offensive power and we have good goaltending — and my big thing is always having one of the hardest-working teams," Klassen explained. "We’ll have good work ethic. I think we’ll be hard-hitting, but clean."