Penticton's comeback senior hockey team the Silver Bullets have made it all the way to the Coy Cup provincial championship, after an incredible first season.
"It's definitely surreal, and it feels like a long road to have gotten here," said Matt Fraser, team member and one of the players behind the vision to bring the Silver Bullets back to life.
In mid-2022, Fraser and other fellow local hockey players came up with the idea of resurrecting a senior team.
Senior AA hockey refers to full contact competitive hockey for 20-40 year olds who still want to play at a high level.
The current senior team is named in honour of the last one to come out of Penticton nearly three decades ago, who won two championships and whose banners Fraser remembers hanging in Memorial Arena as a youngster.
The new team took up the Silver Bullets name proudly, joining a BC league with other independent Senior AA teams like the Powell River Regals and Rossland Warriors.
Fraser's dream caught on like wildfire, with overwhelming interest from players and eager community support.
"Fan response has been amazing. We've been getting 300 to 400 [fans] a night at Memorial Arena," Fraser said.
"We go around town, and everybody talks to us about it ... and I think people love having a crowd back in Memorial Arena again."
The new team proved their worth in the league quickly, recently punching their ticket to the provincial championship in the hope of taking home the coveted Coy Cup.
"It's pretty incredible considering that just a few months ago, it was just an idea with me and some buddies on the golf course and at Cannery," Fraser said.
"That was crazy to begin with, but now that we're going to the provincial championship in our first year, it's simply incredible. I mean, we're really can't sum it up. It's just so special for me and everybody involved."
The championship kicks off March 28, featuring the four top men's senior teams in the province battling it out in Quesnel. Fraser is unsure whether there will be livestream options to watch or listen to the games, but one thing is for sure: He knows Penticton will be cheering on the team from afar.
"We couldn't have gotten this far without the Penticton hockey fans and I just say a big thank you from us because they made it all possible."