Conné Lategan / Cranbrook Bucks

Cranbrook Bucks set to make BCHL regular season debut — finally


Saturday, April 3, 2021 is a monumental day in Cranbrook Bucks franchise history. For the first time ever, the puck will drop on a regular-season game involving the expansion team.

The Bucks’ inaugural game is against the Vees in Penticton — one of five pod locations scattered throughout the province. Rounding out the three-team pod with Cranbrook and Penticton is the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Bucks and Smoke Eaters played each other seven times in last fall’s exhibition season. The more experienced Trail team won four of those previous head-to-head matchups.

Cranbrook and Penticton have not yet played each other, but they are about to get very familiar with one another. Each of the three teams in the Penticton pod will play 20 games — 10 against each of the other two teams.

The Bucks first regular season won’t be very regular at all. However, it is par for the course in terms of the unusual 2020 and 2021 we have all experienced.

Will it get old playing the same two teams every night? Probably, but all these kids have ever wanted to do is play hockey. After three months of training camp, followed by a four-month delay to the regular season, it didn’t look like they would get that chance.

Now, the 2020-21 BCHL season is about to get underway, and the Bucks will play their inaugural season after all.

It’s all about the players

Shortly after the season was announced, Bucks president and majority owner Nathan Lieuwen joined Bradley Jones of MyEastKootenayNow for an interview.

Lieuwen shared his enthusiasm for his team to be able to play its inaugural BCHL season after all they had been through.

“I’m just so excited for our players, I mean they have been so patient and they have worked so hard this year,” said Lieuwen. “There was a lot of ups and downs but I would say overall, to get this done, is so positive.”

“It’s just always going to come back to these players, right? They want to play so bad and they want to showcase their stuff and get to the next level and I am so happy that we’re able to provide that for them now.”

Lieuwen also acknowledged the Cranbrook community, as the Bucks have continued to be supported by fans and sponsors during this rollercoaster season.

“I’m just so excited for our community as well, obviously they’ve been patient too, our fans, our sponsors. To be able to – even if it’s (virtual), show some Cranbrook pride out there and play some games, we’re excited to be able to do that.”

In the months since the Bucks completed their training camp, the roster has experienced some change.

“Like any year, you have some shuffling of the roster, but obviously because we haven’t been playing there hasn’t been a ton of news on that front.”

The Bucks have since announced changes to both the roster and the coaching staff. For information on additions and subtractions to team personnel, you can access my regular-season roster update here.