The B.C. Hockey League has won the war with the Alberta Junior Hockey League and will add Cranbrook as its 18th team next season.
The two junior A leagues were vying to put a team in the city that sits on the B.C./Alberta border, and the BCHL convinced Cranbrook Bucks owner/president Nathan Lieuwen that Canada’s westernmost league was his best option.
“We are extremely excited to bring a BCHL franchise to Cranbrook and the East Kootenay,” said Lieuwen. “The Cranbrook Bucks Hockey Club looks forward to being a proud member of the Cranbrook community and surrounding areas for many years to come. We are grateful for all parties involved in bringing the BCHL to Cranbrook and we can’t wait for the puck to drop for the 2020-21 season.”
If Lieuwen’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he is a former BCHL goaltender (2007-08 Westside Warriors) who spent five seasons in the minor pro ranks and enjoyed an 11 game stint with the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres in 2013-14.
His team will play out of Western Financial Place and their addition will result in a divisional realignment that the league will announce at a later date.
“The city already has a rich hockey history and we are excited to see them add to that legacy and bring BCHL hockey to another great community in our province,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb.
The mayor of Cranbrook is equally excited to bring a BCHL team to his city.
“Having a BCHL franchise showcasing an exciting brand of hockey will be a great addition to the economic well-being of the City,” said Lee Pratt. “Nathan and his group, along with City staff have worked closely together these last few months to bring this great entertainment to the citizens at an affordable price. We welcome the Bucks to Cranbrook and look forward to many years of exciting hockey.”
For more information on the Bucks, visit cranbrookbucks.ca