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Cranbrook Bucks to have inaugural BCHL season after all

The Cranbrook Bucks will join the BCHL’s 17 other teams in a shortened five-week regular season, officially making their debut in the league in a few weeks.

Although the Buck played nine exhibition games against the Trail Smokeaters and Merritt Centennials before the regular season was slated to begin in November, early April will mark the team’s official entry into the BCHL.

On Friday, the BCHL announced that they had been given approval by the Provincial Health Office to hold a condensed season in five regional hub cities, with three to four teams in each hub. Further details including a full schedule and announcement of hub city locations will be announced over the coming days by the BCHL.

MORE: BCHL given approval to return to play (March 12, 2021)

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As for how the Cranbrook Bucks are feeling, Nathan Lieuwen couldn’t be happier.

“I’m just so excited for our players, I mean they have been so patient and they have worked so hard this year,” Lieuwen told MyEastKootenayNow, Owner and President of the Cranbrook Bucks. “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.”

Cranbrook Bucks Owner Nathan Lieuwen (L) and Cranbrook Bucks Head Coach and GM Ryan Donald (R) at Memorial Arena on Tuesday, September 1st for the team’s 2020 Rookie Camp. (Bradley Jones, staff)

Although some players originally on the roster have left for the USHL or other leagues to get game action while the BCHL was waiting in limbo for approval from the Province, Lieuwen said they will have a finalized roster for the start of the season.

“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 but we will be providing a roster update here in the next few days.”

When asked if Cranbrook was one of the five regional hub cities, Lieuwen didn’t divulge any details, noting that the league will be making any announcements on the schedule and hub locations in the coming days.

“That’s all stuff that’s at the league level,” said Lieuwen. “They’ll come out with that probably in the next few days or a week or so.”

The significance of the announcement wasn’t lost on the leader of the Cranbrook Bucks, who also thanked the community for their unwavering support over the past number of months.

“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 virtually, show some Cranbrook pride out there and play some games, we’re excited to be able to do that.”

The BCHL season will begin its shortened season in the first week of April.

Nathan Lieuwen, Cranbrook Bucks President and Majority Owner outside the team dressing room at Western Financial Place on January 20, 2020. (Bradley Jones, staff)
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