After a long, long wait, the Cranbrook Bucks have finally kicked off an inaugural regular season.
The BCHL expansion team had their first two games in regular season history over the weekend, playing out the Penticton pod.
The Bucks dropped their first game on Saturday, April 3, to the Penticton Vees 6-3, but then beat the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-3 on Sunday, for their historic first win.
The Junior B BCHL are playing a regular season delayed and truncated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Games are played out of city “pods” around the province, with three to four teams in each. The Bucks are in the Penticton bubble with the Vees and Smokies.
Trail scored first in Saturday’s game, but the Bucks took a two-goal lead with scoring by Nathan Fox, Noah Quinn and AJ Vlasko (on a five on three power play), and never looked back. Cameron Kungle extended the lead in the third, and Drake Burgin added an empty net goal in the minute. Final score, 5-3, with goaltender Jay Thomson making 21 saves for the win.
“[I’m] happy for the guys and this organization to get its first win,” said Head Coach & General Manager Ryan Donald. “A lot of contributions from across the board [and I’m] happy that Jay was able to backstop us to victory tonight. Another game with some highs and lows but glad to see our guys get rewarded for their efforts this evening.”
Noah Wakeford (two goals) and Kalen Szeto scored for Trail. Cayden Hamming made 24 saves for the Smoke Eaters.
The Bucks regular season debut againt the Vees on Saturday ended in w 6-3 loss for the Bucks. Cam Reid scored the first goal in franchise history for the Bucks while AJ Vasko and Tyson Dyck each recorded their first BCHL goals. Nathan Airey made his first BCHL start, stopping 33 of 38 shots.
“I thought our group gave a strong effort considering the challenges we’ve had to get back to game action,” said Head Coach & General Manager Ryan Donald. “Like any game, we found ourselves with some highs and lows but I liked our resolve and the way that we competed until the end.”
The Bucks next game is Wednesday, April 7, at 8 pm MST, also against the Smoke Eaters. All games are available on HockeyTV and Shaw Spotlight.
With files from cranbrookbucks.ca