Cranbrook Bucks’ defenceman Bauer Morrissey defends the Trail Smoke Eaters’ Brady Hunter in Friday night BCHL action at Western Financial Place. Trevor Crawley photo

Cranbrook Bucks’ defenceman Bauer Morrissey defends the Trail Smoke Eaters’ Brady Hunter in Friday night BCHL action at Western Financial Place. Trevor Crawley photo

The Bucks are back: At last, regular season underway in Cranbrook

Cranbrook Bucks split home-and-away with Trail Smoke Eaters to open season

A regular BCHL regular season is at last underway in Cranbrook, with the Bucks playing a home-and-away against the Trail Smoke Eaters Oct. 8 and 9.

After tearing up exhibition play, the Cranbrook squad opened regular season play with a win in Western Financial Place against their Kootenay rivals.

Friday night saw the Bucks come away with a 5-3 victory over the Smokies. Tyson Dyck had two goals on the night and an assist. The left-winger from Abbotsford opened scoring 5 minutes into the first period. Early in the 2nd he made it 2-0 on the power play. Andrew King and Theo Thrun also scored in the second to give Cranbrook a commanding lead.

Teddy Lagerback got the Smoke Eaters on the board only 13 seconds into the 3rd period, but the Bucks’ Noah Quinn answered back at the 10 minute mark. Cameron Moger and Zach Michaelis (power play) scored for Trail to wrap things up.

Play was rough at times, with 10 penalties assigned over the course of the game. Both the Bucks’ Quaid Anderson (2nd period) and Trail’s Brady Hunter (3rd period) were given minors for “blows to the head,” and each got a misconduct as well.

Cranbrook outshot Trail 38-35, with Nathan Airey, in goal for the Bucks, stopping 32 and Evan Fradette stopping 33 for the Smoke Eaters.

Announced attendance at Western Financial Place was 2,350.

Pictured: Tyson Dyck and linemates celebrate the first ever BCHL regular season goal scored at Western Financial Place. The Cranbrook Bucks went on to a 5-3 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters to open the regular season. Trevor Crawley photo

On Saturday, the Smoke Eaters got their revenge back at home with a 3-1 win.

Tyson Dyck again opened the scoring at the two minute mark, but Ridge Dawson and Zach Michaelis (power play) got two unanswered for Trail. Ethan Willoughby (power play) made it 3-1 for Trail in the 3rd period.

Saturday was another penalty-heavy affair, with Cranbrook getting called for five straight penalties in the second.

Evan Gartner was in net for Cranbrook on Saturday, and stopped 31 of 34 shots. Evan Fradette stopped 37 of 38 for Trail.

Attendance at Cominco Arena in Trail was announced at 1,200.

NOTES: Ahead of the regular season, the Bucks cut down the roster to 24 players — 15 forwards, seven defenceman and two goaltenders. The club also announced it’s leadership group, as Rhys Bentham will lead the squad as team captain, with Cameron Kungle, Brendan Rogers and John Johnson serving as alternates.

“Our staff is excited to name Rhys Bentham as our captain for the 2021-2022 season,” said Ryan Donald, Head Coach and General Manager of the Cranbrook Bucks. “Since arriving in Cranbrook for our inaugural season, Rhys has embodied the values that make up the fabric of our organization. He possesses a great work ethic, is a tremendous competitor, is an outstanding teammate and is enthusiastic about being engaged in our community. We truly believe that Rhys is an excellent representative of the Cranbrook Bucks and look forward to having him Captain our hockey club.”