On Nov. 10, Cranbrook Bucks forward Noah Urness scored once in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Penticton Vees. Two nights later, he tallied a pair of goals, including the overtime game-winner, in a 2-1 triumph over the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Urness’s three goals through two games that weekend led to him being named the British Columbia Hockey League’s third star of the week on Nov. 14. His offensive outburst was also a driving force in the Bucks winning three consecutive contests for the first time this season.
But just as quickly as Urness established himself as Cranbrook’s offensive catalyst, he has left a void needing to be filled — at least temporarily — in the Bucks’ lineup.
Urness, who still leads Cranbrook with 11 goals and 14 points through his 18 games as of this writing, has reportedly returned to Roseau High School in Minnesota to play his senior year of United States High School hockey, where he hopes to win a state championship.
The plan all along?
While it may not make it any easier on the Bucks losing their leading scorer, it does appear that the team was aware of Urness’s desire to play his senior year with the Roseau High Rams this season. Not only did he disclose that information to Cranbrook’s brass during the recruiting process, but it also seemed to be public knowledge in Minnesota.
Shortly after Urness announced his commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey at St. Cloud State University on Oct. 3, he was featured in an article written by Mick Hatten at The Rink Live. Hatten mentioned that Urness, who’s from Roseau, was still undecided on whether he would stay in Cranbrook or return home for his final season.
“Urness has been attending school online and has yet to make a final decision on whether or not he will return to Roseau to play his senior year and then return to Cranbrook after the high school season ends. In three seasons with the Rams, Urness has 75 goals and 88 assists for 163 points in 76 games,” Hatten said in his writing.
While rumblings remained out there about what he would ultimately decide to do, the Roseau Rams released a social media post last week that seemed to welcome Urness back. They posted another announcing him as team captain for a second straight season.
In the most recent episode of the Buck Tales podcast, Urness described Roseau as a hockey-crazy small town about 10 miles south of the Canada-U.S. border, neighbouring Manitoba.
“I’d say Roseau has 3,000 people, give or take — probably take. It has three stop lights in it, and for those 3,000 people, we have three rinks. It’s pretty indicative of the amount (of passion) the community has for hockey, and really represents the state itself.”
Urness has played three seasons with the Rams, collecting 75 goals and 163 points in 76 games as mentioned previously, giving him nearly a goal per game and over two points per game on average. Last season, his first as team captain, Urness totalled a remarkable 45 goals and 41 assists for 86 points through just 28 contests.
A future in Cranbrook?
The Bucks are expecting Urness to return to Cranbrook after the USHS season ends, however, it appears they will be without his services for some time during the bulk of the BCHL season.
The 2024 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, which follows the high school season, runs in early March. If Urness returns to Cranbrook following his final goodbye with Roseau, he could still see some regular season action before suiting up in the BCHL playoffs with the Bucks.
Urness’s short time in Cranbrook not only helped produce his commitment to St. Cloud State but he was also included on National Hockey League Central Scouting’s Preliminary Watch List for the 2024 NHL Draft. His tenure at St. Cloud is expected to start with the 2025-26 season, so the 18-year-old could still play a full campaign with the Bucks next year if he chooses to return to Cranbrook following his senior high school campaign.
The Bucks are hoping to see Urness return, and he hopes he does so with a Minnesota High School Hockey State Championship in his back pocket before accompanying Cranbrook on a postseason run of its own.