VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) -  The BC Lions begin defence of their 2011 Grey Cup championship tonight when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team they beat last November for their sixth title.

The Bombers beat the Lions twice, 25-20 and 30-17 during the regular season last year, but the Lions would win when it counted, hammering the Bombers 34-23 in the final.

Tonight’s game is the regular season coaching debut of Lions head coach Mike Benevides, who was promoted from his defensive coordinator position after Wally Buono decided to handle only the general manager duties this year.

The game could feature a new CFL record. Receiver Geroy Simon needs only 68 yards receiving to pass former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Milt Stegall as the league’s all-time leader in the category. The perennial CFL All-star had 67 or more yards nine times during last year’s regular season.

One area of concern on opening night is the lack of veterans protecting quarterback Travis Lulay. Lulay, who played behind an offensive line for the entire 2011 season will not have offensive lineman Dean Valli and Jesse Newman in the lineup tonight. Both are week-to-week with knee injuries.

The Lions will be trying to avoid another slow start after beginning last year’s championship season with five straight losses. The message this year has been put into one theme, 5:01, which marks the starting time on training camp’s first official day back on June 2nd. The numbers have been posted on every Lions’ players locker stalls.

Game time is 7 p.m.