For young hockey players, the ultimate dream is to make it to the big leagues and play in the NHL. But in order to reach that goal, they need to start at the grassroots level and develop their skills and abilities with a strong junior hockey team. This is where the Cranbrook Bucks come in, a new team in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) that is quickly becoming a recruiting powerhouse for top high school talent. In this article, we will explore how the Cranbrook Bucks are attracting the best players from the high school ranks and why they are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of junior hockey.
The Cranbrook Bucks were founded in 2019 when the BCHL awarded the city of Cranbrook with an expansion franchise. Headed by President and General Manager Nathan Lieuwen, a former goaltender in the NHL, the Bucks have quickly made a name for themselves by building a strong team and establishing a winning culture. But it’s not just about winning games, the Bucks are also focused on developing players and helping them reach their full potential.
The recruitment process for the Cranbrook Bucks starts long before players even set foot on the ice for a tryout. Lieuwen and his staff do their research and target top high school prospects from across North America and around the world. They attend games, tournaments, and camps to scout players and gather information about their abilities, work ethic, and character. This extensive research allows them to identify the best talent and determine who would be a good fit for their team.
One of the main reasons why the Cranbrook Bucks are able to attract top high school talent is their state-of-the-art facilities. The Bucks play at the Western Financial Place, a 4,264-seat arena that boasts top-notch amenities and equipment. This provides players with the best resources to train and develop their skills, which in turn, helps the team to be successful on the ice. In addition to their home rink, the Bucks also have access to a weight room, a video room, and an on-site chiropractor, all of which contribute to the players’ overall development.
But it’s not just about the facilities, the Bucks also have a strong coaching staff led by Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Donald. With years of experience in the BCHL and junior hockey, Donald knows what it takes to develop young players into elite athletes. He and his coaching staff work closely with the players to improve their physical, mental, and technical abilities. This personalized approach to coaching has been praised by players, parents, and scouts, making the Bucks an attractive option for high school prospects.
Another factor that sets the Cranbrook Bucks apart from other teams is their focus on education. Unlike major junior leagues, the BCHL allows players to maintain their amateur status, meaning they can still play college hockey in the future. This is a major selling point for high school players who want to continue their education while pursuing their hockey dreams. The Bucks work closely with their players to ensure they are on track academically and provide them with resources and support for their post-secondary plans.
In addition to their focus on education, the Cranbrook Bucks also prioritize the mental health and well-being of their players. They have a mental health support system in place, with access to a sports psychologist and regular check-ins with a mental health professional. This is especially important for young players who are away from home for the first time and face the challenges of balancing hockey with school and personal life. The Bucks recognize the importance of having a support system in place to help their players thrive both on and off the ice.
The success of the Cranbrook Bucks has not gone unnoticed in the hockey world. The team has quickly risen in the BCHL standings and has become a contender in just their second season. Their strong recruitment process, top-notch facilities, experienced coaching staff, and focus on education and mental health have all contributed to their success. Not only are they winning games, but they are also developing players and preparing them for the next level. It’s no wonder why the Cranbrook Bucks are attracting the top high school talent and establishing themselves as a recruiting powerhouse in the world of junior hockey.