Junior hockey returning to Cranbrook
The Bucks have stopped at Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place and will be ready to hit the ice for the 2020/21 BC Hockey League (BCHL) season.
The BCHL and the City of Cranbrook this morning (Oct. 8) announced that the expansion Cranbrook Bucks hockey club will be the 18th team in the league and will be joining the Interior Division to start next season.
Cranbrook city council Oct. 7 officially signed and endorsed the lease for Western Financial Place between the Cranbrook Bucks ownership group, which includes president and majority owner Nathan Lieuwen and former NHL great and city son Scott Niedermayer.
“We are extremely excited to bring a BCHL franchise to Cranbrook and the East Kootenay,” said Lieuwen, a former goaltender with the Kootenay ICE and Buffalo Sabres draft selection. “The Cranbrook Bucks hockey club looks forward to be a proud member of the Cranbrook community and surrounding areas for many years to come. We are grateful for all parties involved in bringing the BCHL to Cranbrook and we can’t wait for the puck to drop for the 2020-2021 season.”
“Welcome to the BC Hockey League,” stated BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb to a large crowd gathered in the foyer of Western Financial Place. “We are pleased to add Cranbrook as the 18th member of the BC Hockey League. The city already has a rich hockey history and we are excited to see them add to that legacy and bring BCHL hockey to another great community in our province.”
The BCHL offers an “exciting” brand of hockey, Hebb said, noting many National Hockey League players have come from the league.
Notable BCHL draftees include: Jamie Benn (Dallas), Tyson Jost (Colorado), Dante Fabbro (Nashville), Dennis Cholowski (Detroit), Kyle Turris (Nashville), Riley Nash (Columbus), Travis Zajac (New Jersey), and a pair of retired legends – Brett Hull and Trail’s Ray Ferraro.
While the NHL keeps close tabs on the league, with eight players drafted this year, Hebb said it is more of a feeder league for NCAA teams in the USA, meaning players get to play high level hockey and get a quality education.
Hebb said Lieuwen’s doggedness and organization was impressive in the lead up to the league board accepting the new franchise, featuring a mad looking buck logo with a green motif.
“He put together the strongest package I have ever seen.”
Lieuwen said the team name was pretty much a no-brainer, noting they are everywhere and one comes close “to hitting one (deer)” in their car whenever driving around town.
“Having a BCHL franchise showcasing an exciting brand of hockey will be a great addition to the economic well-being of the city,” said City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt. “Nathan and his group, along with city staff have worked closely together these last few months to bring this great entertainment to the citizens at an affordable price. We welcome the Bucks to Cranbrook and look forward to many years of exciting hockey.”
Pratt concluded by urging city and area residents “to get behind them” and show support.
Scott Niedermayer said he is proud to be part of the ownership group and became involved “because this is my home.” He added Lieuwen’s “passion” for the team and league also played a key role.
The BCHL reaches into 17 communities throughout B.C., including the nearby Trail Smoke Eaters, and into the Pacific Northwest at Wenatchee, Washington, encouraging and fostering a sense of community, promoting community leadership at all levels of the game, while taking pride in the role it plays in strengthening communities from the ground up.
Lieuwen said he’s already received a text message from the Smoke Eaters welcoming Cranbrook to the league and is looking forward to the teams competing and working together.
With a rich, grassroots history that spans over half a century, the BCHL continues to enjoy a local and faithful fan following eager to support their hometown teams.
For more information about the team, ticket sales and more visit, www.cranbrookbucks.ca.
You can also visit the club’s social media pages on Facebook – Cranbrook Bucks (@BCHLBucks); Twitter – @cranbrookbucks and on Instagram at cranbrookbucks.
Ed. note: Seems fitting that Western Financial Place’s nickname should become ‘The Shed.’
Lead image: From left, Cranbrook Bucks president and majority owner Nathan Lieuwen, Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb and Scott Niedermayer. Photos by Ian Cobb/e-KNOW