The Portage Collegiate Trojans are exactly one week away from their home opener.

The defending champions of the Zone 4 High School Hockey League finalized their roster over the weekend, and coach Dave Van Deynze says he expects the team to be very competitive again this year.

"Obviously, we graduated nine or ten players from last year. So, it's largely a new squad but we have a good mix of returning players, and we managed to find a couple of new ones as well," Van Deynze continues. "We have a lot of talent this year, and we're really hopeful and we're really confident that we're going to put together a pretty good year again."

PCI finished last season with a 19-3 record while capturing three of the five regular season awards (Most Valuable Player, Top Goaltender, and Coaches of the Year) to go along with their championship trophy.

While many of their top players have moved on, the Trojans had some late additions after the U18 AAA Central Plains Capitals team folded for the 2022-23 season.

"That made our team significantly stronger. We ended up with a number of those folks. Anytime that happens, it's disappointing for those players and certainly for the Caps program but the PCI Trojans benefit from that and it made our team a lot stronger this year, for sure."

Despite being the defending champions, Van Deynze says they'll be preparing like it is a typical year.

"We're certainly not feeling any pressure. Our goal as coaches is to get the kids improving every day that we can and make them as competitive as they can. Whatever happens, is going to happen," Van Deynze explains. "No pressure, we're just looking forward to the new challenges that a new year and new team brings. It should be a great year for us."

The Trojans will begin the season against one of their biggest competitors last year in the WC Miller Aces. Game one will take place on Thursday, October 20 at Stride Place, with puck drop set for 7:30.