The second week of the BC Hockey League season was a tough one for the Cranbrook Bucks. The Bucks went winless in four Penticton pod games against the Vees and the Trail Smoke Eaters.
They were shut out once and managed just five goals in those four contests. Part of the offensive struggles for Cranbrook could certainly be credited to injuries to key players.
Cranbrook began the week without the services of forward AJ Vasko, who missed four games with a lower-body injury. Vasko has since returned to the lineup and picked up right where he left off as a leader for the Bucks. He had two goals and three points in his first five BCHL games.
The Bucks were also without forwards Noah Quinn and Tyson Dyck last week due to injury. Both Quinn and Dyck were recognized in my Bucks three stars for week one, so their absences were noticeable as the team struggled to find offense last week.
Quinn managed a goal and four points in his first five games before missing the last four contests with a lower-body injury. Dyck scored three goals and five points during his first five tilts before suffering an upper-body injury.
Despite the lack of team success and being without some key players up front, there were still some noticeable performers last week for the Bucks.
WHAT. A. SHOT. 😱🤯 pic.twitter.com/uB02WqCiwS
— Cranbrook Bucks (@CranbrookBucks) April 19, 2021
Just like I did for the first week of the season, I will acknowledge five players for their contributions in the Bucks second week of the season. The injures to Quinn and Dyck opened the door for some newcomers to the list, and there are also some repeat performers.
Three stars of the week
Here are my Cranbrook Bucks three stars of week two, which includes the four games between Apr. 12 and 18.
First star — Walker Gelbard
The 2005-born Gelbard continues to exceed expectations as the second-youngest player in the league this season. The rookie forward managed two goals and four points in four games played last week.
Through the Bucks’ first nine games played, Gelbard led the team with six assists. He was also tied with Zeth Kindrachuk for the team lead in points with eight. Having just recently turned 16-years-old, Gelbard’s strong rookie season has been one of the biggest bright spots for the Bucks.
Second star — Zeth Kindrachuk
After being my first star for week one, Kindrachuk is given second-star honours this time around. He recorded one goal and one assist for the week and was also named a FortisBC Energy player of the game once. In addition to being tied with Gelbard for the team lead in points, Kindrachuk is also tied with Dyck for the most goals.
Kindrachuk’s third goal of the season makes it a 3-1 hockey game 🚨 pic.twitter.com/7h0T7QYTU0
— Cranbrook Bucks (@CranbrookBucks) April 17, 2021
Even when he’s not producing points, Kindrachuk continues to be a pace-setter for the Bucks. The 2002-born forward has turned into one of the natural leaders for this young Cranbrook squad.
Third star — Christian Lowe
After being an honourable mention in week one, the 2002-born Lowe cracks the three stars time around. He did not record any points last week, so I’m recognizing Lowe for his intangible contributions alone.
The forward’s work ethic went unmatched again in week two, while still being counted on in all areas for the Bucks. Whether it is taking face-offs, killing penalties, or using his electrifying speed, Lowe continues to be a valuable piece for Cranbrook.
My week two honourable mentions are a couple of newcomers to the Cranbrook Bucks three stars of the week.
Nathan Airey — Goalie
Still searching for his first BCHL win, Airey, a 2003-born goaltender, played well in three appearances last week. He stopped 84 of the 96 shots he faced for a .875 save percentage while averaging four goals-against per game.
Although he is still winless through six games this season, Airey has shown signs of growth in both confidence and ability. His strong play last week lowered his goals-against-average to 5.14 and raised his save percentage to .856 on the campaign.
Noah Leibl — Forward
Similar to the previously mentioned Kindrachuk and Lowe, Leibl’s style of play jumps out more than his point production. He plays in all situations, highlighted by his special-teams work on the power-play and penalty-kill.
— BCHL (@BCHockeyLeague) April 16, 2021
When he isn’t playing on the defensive side or using physicality to spark his team, Leibl will chip in a bit offensively as well. He has scored two goals this season, including a shorthand beauty against the Vees last week.
Cranbrook opens its second straight week hoping to avoid the injury bug and have some regulars return to form. The Bucks would also welcome more surprises from young players, and contributions from their depth.
They will once again play four games in the third week of the season as they hunt down the second win in franchise history.