Pistons set to play in La Broquerie next season
The worst-kept secret across the Steinbach area became public knowledge April 26, as La Broqueire council unanimously approved a resolution to allow the Steinbach Pistons to play the 2023/2024 season inside the HyLife Center during a meeting.
La Broquerie reeve Ivan Normandeau said he was excited to once again be able to host Steinbach hockey. Before the construction of the T.G. Smith Centre in 1967, Steinbach hockey players regularly had to make the trip to La Broquerie or St Pierre to play, as there was no covered ice in the city.
“The final agreement has not been signed yet, but we have all the major details,” Normandeau said, adding the parties were waiting until the end of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (Mantioba Junior Hockey League) season before finalizing it.
As part of the resolution, council also approved using up to $50,000 from their economic development reserve fund for building upgrades to accommodate the MJHL. Some of that money will be going into installing a new set of glass along the boards, with improvements also set for the dressing rooms.
Pistons head coach and general manager Paul Dyck said keeping the team within the region was one of their first priorities when looking for a temporary home. The Centennial Arena at the T.G. Smith Centre is set to be destroyed and a new facility constructed in its place.
“We wanted to stay in touch with our fanbase and give them the ability to watch us play on a regular basis,” Dyck said.
“(La Broquerie) showed an interest in us being there… I think both sides felt wanted to create some sort of mutual partnership.”
The new, taller glass will actually come from the Centennial Arena.
Steinbach Coun. Susan Penner made the motion to donate the glass saying it’s part of being good neighbours.
“I just think it’s a good-will gesture and it also has some economic value for La Broquerie as well,” she said.
Coun. Michael Zwaagstra agreed, pointing out that the RM of La Broquerie is doing the community a favour by agreeing to host the Pistons while the Southeast Event Centre is under construction.
“This is just a great example of something simple that improves relationships between municipalities,” he said.
The renovations to the dressing rooms will be focused on bringing the older ones up to a higher standard.
“Our rink will be better positioned once they leave than when they got there,” Normandeau said.
“I know some people might not want to spend money, but we’re spending money and also making money. It just made sense for us.”
Renovations to prepare for the MJHL’s arrival in La Broquerie in late-summer have already began, as well as construction on the Southeast Event Centre.
“We have such a beautiful rink, and I’m so proud of it,” Normandeau said, noting the facility also features ball diamonds and a splash pad.
“It really makes sense to have it there, and it makes sense to showcase our rink and our town.”
Hosting an MJHL team could also give La Broquerie a chance to honour their own hockey history, with Normandeau and Dyck hinting work has already started on that front.
“We want to do something to pay respect to their history,” Dyck said.
“It’s a monumental year for them with their 75th anniversary happening during the 23/24 season. It’s an opportunity to have a little fun with that.”
The Steinbach Pistons will be defending a league championship from inside the HyLife Centre, as the team capped off the final season inside the T.G. Smith Centre with a championship victory over Virden April 29.