The expansion Cranbrook Bucks have been busy ahead of their inaugural season. Building a team from the ground up entails many to-do’s, not the least of which would be to recruit a full complement of players. In January, the Bucks announced Noah Leibl as the first ever player to commit to the team. The San Diego, California product turned 18-years-old this past March. He has a history of being a strong offensive player and producing points everywhere he’s been.
Leibl played his minor hockey with the San Diego Jr. Gulls program. He began making a name for himself at the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament during the 2014-15 season. In six games at the event, Leibl scored five goals and added eight assists, which was tied for second-most overall.
Leibl’s 13 points helped propel his team to top spot in the round-robin of the tournament. They would eventually lose 2-1 in the final against Acadie-Bathurst Titan, their only loss of the tournament.
Leibl spent the 2015-16 season with the Jr. Gulls 13U AAA team. He contributed 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 35 games played that season. In the 2016-17 season that followed, he contributed 22 goals and 41 points in 41 games for the Jr. Gulls U14 AAA team.
Leibl’s career with the Jr. Gulls bantam teams saw him collect a total of 37 goals and 33 assists for 70 points in 76 games.
Leibl makes the move to Canada
For the 2017-18 season, Leibl moved to Shawnigan Lake, BC to play in the Canadian School Sport Hockey League. In 30 games with Shawnigan Lake School’s varsity team that season, Leibl collected 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points. He also played one game as an affiliate for Shawnigan Lake’s prep team, notching an assist. Leibl and Shawnigan Lake School’s Varsity team won the CSSVHL championship that season.
Leibl played a full season in the prep division in 2018-19, recording 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points in 36 games. He also got his first taste of junior hockey that season, playing one game for the nearby Kerry Park Islanders of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Following that season, Leibl was chosen in Phase II of the United States Hockey League draft. The Muskegon Lumberjacks selected Leibl in the 19th round, 288th overall. In Phase II of the USHL draft, any junior eligible players with unprotected playing rights may be selected by a USHL team.
— Muskegon Lumberjacks (@MuskegonJacks) May 7, 2019
In the recently completed 2019-20 season, Leibl again played for Shawnigan Lake School’s prep team in the CSSHL. He had a big offensive season, scoring 31 goals and adding 31 assists for 62 points in 36 games. His 62 points ranked ninth overall in CSSHL scoring in the prep division. Leibl gained more junior experience last season as well, playing two games for the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers as an affiliate player.
Leibl commits to Cranbrook
In the midst of his strong offensive season, Leibl and the Bucks agreed to a commitment for the upcoming season. The Bucks saw an opportunity to add a solid player to their team for 2020-21, and they took it.
”We are very excited to have Noah on board for next season,” said Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen in the team’s official release. “He not only has the ability to be a strong player in the BCHL but also has the right character that we want to build this team with.”
Extremely excited for the future! https://t.co/eqvMHoId6A
— Noah Leibl (@noahleibl) January 27, 2020
There was an opportunity for Leibl as well. The Bucks present him with a chance to not only play but have a big impact on the expansion franchise. After the strong season he had at Shawnigan Lake School this year, Leibl seems poised to take the next step.
That step, to jump into the BCHL with an expansion team and have an immediate impact. Leibl was held pointless in his two games with Vernon last season, meaning his milestone first BCHL point will come as a member of the Bucks this fall.